Medically reviewed on June 7, 2018
Uses For This Medicine
Diethyltoluamide is an insect repellent used to keep insects away. This product is effective against mosquitoes, biting flies (gnats, sandflies, deer flies, stable flies, black flies), ticks, harvest mites, and fleas.
Diethyltoluamide is available without a prescription.
Before Using This Medicine
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For diethyltoluamide, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to diethyltoluamide or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Children may be at increased risk of side effects because of increased absorption of diethyltoluamide through their skin. Use only products that have low amounts of diethyltoluamide and apply it sparingly to the exposed skin of children.
Interactions with Medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your healthcare professional if you are taking any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.
Interactions with Food/Tobacco/Alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Proper Use of This Medicine
Diethyltoluamide is for external use only.
For safe and effective use, read the directions on the label before using any diethyltoluamide-containing preparations.
Use a product that contains low amounts (less than 30%) of diethyltoluamide and apply it sparingly. Use just enough to cover the exposed area(s) of the skin. One application using a product that contains low amounts of diethyltoluamide will last about 4 to 8 hours.
If you are applying this product on your face, keep it away from your eyes, lips, or the inside of your nose. If you accidentally get some in your eyes or onto your lips or the inside of your nose, immediately rinse these areas with plenty of water. Check with your doctor if irritation, especially of your eyes, continues. If you are using an aerosol or spray form, do not spray it directly on your face. Instead, spray the palm of your hand and rub the repellent on, spreading it carefully on your face.
Do not apply this product to wounds or irritated or broken skin. To do so may increase the chance of absorption through the skin and the chance of unwanted effects. Apply sparingly onto skin folds because increased irritation is more likely to occur in these areas.
Wear long sleeves and long pants when possible and apply the repellent to clothing (shirts, pants, socks, and hats) instead of your skin to lessen exposure of your skin to diethyltoluamide. Do not apply it under clothing. (Diethyltoluamide will not damage clothing materials, such as cotton, wool, or nylon. However, it may damage acetate, rayon, spandex, or some other synthetic materials.) Wash treated clothing after use or when protection is no longer needed.
Read the label very carefully to see if the product contains alcohol. Alcohol is flammable and can catch on fire. Do not use any product containing alcohol near a fire or open flame, or while smoking. Also, do not smoke after applying one of these products and do not expose your treated skin to fire or open flame until the diethyltoluamide on your skin has completely dried. In addition, keep your treated clothing away from fire, open flame, or smoke.
Do not keep the repellent on your skin any longer than necessary. Once it is not needed, or after you return indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water.
Do not use the product on or near furniture, plastics, watch crystals, leather, or painted or varnished surfaces, including automobiles, because diethyltoluamide may damage these materials.
To use the liquid or lotion forms of diethyltoluamide:
- Apply enough repellent to cover the exposed area(s) of skin, rub in gently, and allow it to dry.
To use the topical aerosol or topical spray forms of diethyltoluamide:
- Hold container 6 to 8 inches from skin or clothing. Spray in a slow, sweeping motion just enough repellent to cover exposed skin. Then spread evenly with hands to moisten all exposed skin and allow it to dry.
To use the towelette form of diethyltoluamide:
- Wipe the towelette over the exposed skin and allow to dry.
The dose of diethyltoluamide will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of diethyltoluamide. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For topical dosage forms (lotion, topical aerosol, topical spray solution, and towelettes):
- To keep away insects, ticks, or mites:
- Adults and children—Apply a small amount to exposed area(s) of skin. Reapply when needed.
- To keep away insects, ticks, or mites:
Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Do not refrigerate. Keep from freezing.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Precautions While Using This Medicine
Avoid breathing in diethyltoluamide.
Do not apply this product to the hands of young children. After applying this product to the skin of children, watch the children carefully to make sure that they do not get any of the repellent into their eyes or mouth. Do not apply the product under the diapers. Discourage children from licking the area of application. Diethyltoluamide can cause serious side effects, especially in children, if it gets into the mouth or is swallowed.
If you think that a side effect has occurred after application of this product, wash the treated skin and check with your doctor . Take the container of diethyltoluamide with you for the doctor to see.
This Medicine Side Effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:
- Changes in facial skin color
- clumsiness or unsteadiness
- convulsions (seizures)
- fast or irregular breathing
- loss of consciousness
- mood or mental changes
- muscle cramping
- puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes
- reddening of skin
- shortness of breath, troubled breathing, tightness in chest, and/or wheezing
- skin blisters
- skin rash, hives, and/or itching
- slow heartbeat
- slurred speech
- trouble in sleeping
- uncontrolled jerking movement
- unusual tiredness or weakness
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
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