I've just spent most of the day reading on DEET and Picaridin (two most effective substances against mosquito bites) and since this topic have not been brought up since '08, I wanted to share what I found and see what others had to say on the subject.
One of the most interesting sites I've found was: http://cfpub.epa.gov/oppref/insect/index.cfm (it lists all of the Insect Repellents) - notice the View All Results on the bottom.
According to the site, products with Controlled Release can protect you for much longer periods of time at lower chemical doses. For example, 20% controlled release DEET lasts 11 hours, whereas 98.3% DEET (max available) in OFF only lasts 10 hours.
Note: Picaridin max is 20%
Just so there is no misconception, they are both chemicals.
In both cases, strength of chemical does not increase strength of protection, just duration. (based on CDC)
Deet Pro: Lasts longer - up to 11 hours vs Picaridin max of 8 hours.
Picaridin Pro: Less irritation, easier to apply to face w/o causing eye itching.
Deet Pro: Time proven (1946) where as Picaridin is a incumbent (1990, on sale in 01).
Picaridin Pro: Odorless, where as Deet had an odor unpleasant to some.
Picaridin Pro: Will not melt plastic at higher concentrations.
Picaridin Pro: Provides protection against tics at lower concentration. Deet doesnt start offering tic protection until 25%.
Point of interest: Seems that US and Australian Army use 35% DEET
Another topic of my concern was availability overseas:
In my case I am in Japan, and max DEET available is 12% & Picaridin is not sold at all.
Solutions: International shipping with Amazon.com (route I am taking) or Ebay.
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