The Basics

What the outdoor retailer offers is personal expertise which is something the web cannot deliver. In a world awash with product and competing claims, the informed sales person comes into his or her own. On these pages and in concert with individual sponsors we offer a series of bullet point guides to the basics of the key outdoor product categories. Our aim is to provide inexperienced sales staff a guide to what to remember and for more experienced ones a reminder of things they might have forgotten. The Basics has been produced so as to make it simple to download – in most cases each takes up no more than single sheet of paper.

The Basics of Insect Repellant

Sponsored by Care Plus

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recognises and recommends the use of Insect repellents that contain one of the following ingredients:-

DEET (30-50%)
SALTIDIN (also known as Picaridin or Icaridin)

What is Deet?
It stands for Diethyl-meta-toluamide and is still the most widely used biocide in insect repellents. A biocide is any chemical substance or micro-organism that neutralizes or controls any harmful organism by chemical or biological means. 

What’s the difference in effectiveness against Mosquitoes when using 50% or 100% DEET?
DEET is a repellent whatever the concentration and a product containing just 10% DEET still offers protection against mosquitoes, but only up to 90 minutes. However this is not linear and 30% lasts up to 5½ hours, 40% up to 8 hours and 50% up to 10 hours. The biggest mistake is in thinking that 100% DEET will last still longer when tests show conclusively that 100% DEET lasts no longer than 50%.

So products containing Deet will repel all insects, right?
Wrong. DEET works well on Mosquitoes, Ticks and some other insects but there are a whole host of biting insects against which DEET offers little or no protection. For most travellers however it’s the mosquito they need to guard against and a product using Deet is probably the best answer. A combination of repellents might actually be the best approach when travelling to certain places including sub-Saharan African or in areas of rain forest.

Are natural products any good?
They are and against certain insects can offer more protection than DEET. There is a common ingredient in all of them that is permitted by World Health Organisation called Citriodiol although it is marketed under a number of different names. The greatest advantage is that it can be used on Children from as young as three months.

Are they safer than Deet based products?
That depends on how much of a risk you think Deet is. A US Navy report said that Deet had been used billions of times and there have only been a handful of cases involving problems. If you want a basis for comparison, last year in the UK more than 1400 people were admitted to hospital as a result of an adverse reaction to aspirin.

Are there other Repellents that I should know about?
The World Health Organisation also recommends the use of Saltidin as a repellent. Not only is it effective against mosquitoes ticks and many other biting insects including Midges, it has the added advantages of being suitable to for use on children from two years of age and it does not damage plastics.

As a retailer do I need to know anything else?
You have the basic knowledge concerning the types of repellents that are available, and you now know that some work better on certain insects. Why not find out which works best on various insects so you can recommend the correct repellent to suit your customers’ needs? 

What else does the customer need to know about insect repellents?
You have now recommended in your opinion the best repellent to your customer so the final piece of the jigsaw is how to apply and use them to ensure they work.  

Never spray directly to the skin, but always apply lotions, gels or sprays to the back of the hand and then wipe on to exposed skin. 

Never apply to skin that will be covered by clothing.  

Always wash repellents off before going to bed

Remember that insects also bite at home not just on holiday

Read the instructions before use 

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