Diethyltoluamide (topical)

A medication which is effective in repelling biting insects, diethyltoluamide is commonly used in a spray form, and can be sprayed on unbroken skin directly, or on the external side of clothing.


Diethyltoluamide is an insect repellant which has been demonstrated to be effective against a wide variety of bothersome insects, including gnats, mosquitoes, sand flies, black flies, mites, ticks, deer flies, fleas, and stable flies. It is available in many different products at pharmacies and in department stores which have pharmaceutical departments, and none of these different products require a prescription.

When used to keep away insects, diethyltoluamide can be sprayed directly on the skin, wherever the insects are being bothersome, as long as the skin is not broken and contains no sores or wounds. It should not be sprayed on areas where the skin folds, because this can increase the chance of some kind of skin irritation at that site.

It is best to use only enough of this product to accomplish the goal, and whichever brand name product is purchased, should have no more than about 30% diethyltoluamide in its overall composition. Once this medication has been applied, it normally remains effective for between four and eight hours, assuming that the affected area is not washed or wiped beforehand.

If a spray is used, it should never be aimed at the face, because there is a chance that could get in your eyes, and then you would be obliged to flush the eyes out to prevent further discomfort and stinging. If the irritation persists after flushing, you should contact your doctor. To avoid this kind of possibility, it is advisable to spray the product on to the palm of your hand, and then apply it to the affected area. Do not leave the product on your skin any longer than is necessary ' when you come inside from being outdoors, it is advisable to wash off the repellent with soap and warm water.

An even better approach is to spray the product on to the external side of your clothing, since that will accomplish the same goal, without exposing your skin to the repellant itself. This product is not harmful to ordinary clothing but can cause damage to some kinds of synthetic fabrics such as rayon, spandex, and acetate.

If used as a spray, the product should be held approximately six inches away from the target area and sprayed in a sweeping motion, rather than a steady, direct application. When used as a liquid or a lotion, apply enough product to cover the affected area and rub in gently so it will dry more easily. Some forms of diethyltoluamide are also available as a towelette, and in this case, the towelette should simply be rubbed over the target area and allowed to dry.

Condition Treated

  • Repels biting insects

Type Of Medicine

  • Insect repellant

Side Effects

There are very few side effects associated with usage of this medication, and none which actually require medical attention, unless you discover that you are allergic to the medication. In this case, you may observe symptoms such as the following: hives, rashes, inflammation of the skin in some areas, difficulty breathing or tightness in the chest, swelling around the face, or of the tongue, lips, and mouth. If any of these side effects appear after applying diethyltoluamide, contact your doctor immediately, because it's possible the symptoms may become worse before they subside.

You may also notice some signs of skin irritation in the areas where this medication has been applied, especially in areas where the skin is folded over, because the repellent is not exposed to the fresh air there, and tends to stick on the skin without drying. If this condition persists, you should contact your doctor, otherwise, it will most likely fade away all on its own.

In order to reduce the likelihood of any unwanted side effects, it's a good idea to wash the area of your skin where diethyltoluamide has been applied, so that it is fully removed from the skin after its useful period.


Dosing information on this product is the same for virtually anyone who uses it, and this holds true regardless of the specific form that diethyltoluamide comes in. Unless there are specific instructions on the product label to the contrary, this medication should always be applied to the affected area where the skin is exposed to insects. Only as much product as is needed to cover the affected area should be applied, and gently rubbed in so it will have an opportunity to dry out.

Most forms of this medication will be effective from four to eight hours before re-application is needed, so you may not have to apply a second coating, unless you are outdoors for an extended period of time. However, if you are in a situation that calls for being outdoors all day long, you can re-apply the repellent as needed to cope with the conditions of biting insects.


There are no other drugs which are known to interact with diethyltoluamide, although it is still a good idea to prepare a list of your medications when discussing the possibility of using this insect repellant with your doctor. That list is a good reference to use when you have a need to visit the local emergency room, or when you have to visit a healthcare clinic where your doctor does not reside. Knowing all the medications as well as their dosages will allow medical personnel to treat the condition which you've come for, without worrying about possible interactions with other medications.

Diethyltoluamide can interact with alcohol or tobacco, so you should not consume these before or after applying the medication.


There are a few precautions which should be observed whenever diethyltoluamide is being used, especially around or on children. You should avoid breathing in any fumes from the container which holds this medication, as it may irritate the lungs and the respiratory system. Whenever you apply this repellant on children, pay close attention to them afterward to make sure they do not rub their hands on the affected area, then transfer that to the eyes or the mouth. If this medication is ingested by youngsters in such a manner, it can be quite harmful. Children should also be discouraged from licking the area which has been sprayed or treated, since this can instantly put the medication in their mouths, and therefore into the rest of the system.

Children are known to absorb more of this product through their skin than adults, so it is highly advisable to use a lower strength product when spraying children or applying a lotion containing diethyltoluamide.

Whenever possible, long-sleeved shirts and long pants should be worn outside when insects are biting, and this clothing should be treated with insect repellant, rather than having the skin itself directly treated.

Some products containing diethyltoluamide also have certain amounts of alcohol in their makeup. If the product you buy contains alcohol, be sure not to use the medication anywhere around an open flame, or someplace where sparks might be flying, because it could ignite the medication itself, or the flame could leap to the skin of someone who has been treated.

It is best to avoid using this product in proximity to expensive furniture, watch crystals, leather products, varnished surfaces, or painted surfaces, e.g. automobile paint jobs. Diethyltoluamide can damage any of these surfaces, and cause a reaction which either destroys or degrades the external surfaces.

It is not advisable to have a meal after applying this medication, because it might still be on your hands, and could then be ingested along with anything else going in your mouth. By the same token, it is also not recommended to drink alcohol or smoke tobacco products after applying this medication.


The most important thing to remember about storing diethyltoluamide is that it should be kept well out of the reach of any pets which may reside in the home, as well as any young children who are at home. If they can reach the container holding this medication, there's a good chance that curiosity will compel them to somehow open it and creates a situation which might turn unfortunate.

The best strategy for keeping it away from pets and children is therefore to store it in a location which is well above the height that either of those groups can reach. If you suspect that one or the other has ingested the medication, call your local Poison Control Center immediately and follow their instructions.

If you have unused diethyltoluamide in the home, dispose of it using proper disposal methods so that no one else tries to use it or ingest it. If you aren't sure about how to properly dispose of this medication, you can ask your doctor or pharmacist.


Diethyltoluamide is an effective insect repellant which can be used to discourage biting insects from hanging around the areas which have been treated. It has relatively few side effects or warnings which need to be observed, so it does not require a prescription for use. It comes in several forms, such as a spray, liquid, lotion, or towelette, and all of these are topically applied to the area of the skin which is being assaulted by insects.

When diethyltoluamide is used on children, a bit more caution is necessary, because children can absorb more of the medication through their skin, and this means that there's a greater chance for some kind of side effects to be manifested. The medication is sold in pharmacies at lower strengths which are suitable for children and people who have sensitive skin.

The preferred way to use this medication is to spray it on the long sleeves or the trouser legs of pants, rather than directly on the skin itself. In most cases, the medication does not harm clothing (with the exception of synthetic garments), so this is a much better choice than applying it directly to the skin, where irritation may be possible.