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What Is Picaridin? (2023 Guide)

If you’re looking for a solution to repel mosquitoes, ticks, flies, and other stinging insects, you’ve probably come across a picaridin insect repellent. In this article, we’ll discuss what picaridin is, its benefits and drawbacks, and alternatives to this chemical compound.

What is picaridin?

Picaridin, also known as icaridin, is a synthetic compound found in insect repellents that’s effective at repelling mosquitoes and ticks, in addition to other insects, such as biting flies, gnats, sand flies, chiggers, and fleas. Created in the 1980s by Bayer, a German drug company, picaridin was made to resemble piperidine, a natural compound found in the plants that produce black pepper. While this synthetic compound has been around for a while, it only became commercially available in the United States in 2005. 

How does picaridin work?

Picaridin comes in a variety of insect repellent forms, including aerosols and wipes. When applied correctly, picaridin works by creating a vapor barrier on your skin that blocks mosquitoes from sensing their prey and makes them less likely to bite.

Benefits and drawbacks of picaridin

In addition to repelling insects, picaridin offers the following benefits:

  • Some sprays that contain picaridin offer up to 12 hours of protection against mosquitoes and ticks
  • Doesn’t leave skin feeling greasy or sticky after application
  • Is odorless and doesn’t have an overwhelming aroma
  • Isn’t a plasticizer, so it doesn’t dissolve or damage plastics or synthetic fibers
  • Won’t damage your clothing and gear
  • Is just as effective as DEET and other insect repellents at repelling mosquitoes
  • Is a Centers for Disease Control (CDC)-recommended insect repellent

However, picaridin does have its drawbacks, including:

  • Only been available since 2005 and hasn’t been around for as long as some other insect repellents
  • Contains chemicals and isn’t considered a natural repellent

Is picaridin safe?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), picaridin is safe to use on your skin. The CDC also recommends picaridin as safe to use on children older than two months. While picaridin isn’t considered to be a skin irritant or a dermal sensitizer, it can cause slight to moderate eye irritation if it gets in your eyes.

Alternatives to picaridin

If you’re not sold on picaridin, here are some alternative repellent options:

  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)—This natural oil is the only plant-based ingredient approved by the EPA that can repel mosquitoes. Oil of lemon eucalyptus is as effective as DEET and picaridin, doesn’t have an odor, doesn’t leave behind a greasy residue, and protects against mosquitoes and ticks for up to six hours.
  • DEET—This chemical compound is found in a variety of insect repellents. It’s approved by the EPA as an insect repellent and has been around for longer than picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus, but it’s known to harm gear because it’s a plasticizer. DEET can also be toxic to freshwater fish and can enter the waterways when you wash it off your skin, harming local marine ecosystems.
  • Citronella—While citronella is found in a variety of natural insect repellents, including candles, sprays, oils, and balms, it’s used at lower concentrations because it can cause skin irritation at higher levels.
  • IR3535—Short for Insect Repellent 3535, IR3535 is a synthetic insect repellent that can be applied to your skin to prevent mosquito bites. It works by altering an insect’s sense of smell and is effective against mosquitoes that carry the West Nile virus, Zika virus, and Chikungunya virus.
  • 2-Undecanone—This chemical compound is a colorless oil that has a strong odor, which is known to repel insects. It commonly comes in the form of liquids, sprays, or gels.

Why Murphy’s Naturals

Murphy’s Naturals offers a selection of natural mosquito repellents that are alternatives to picaridin and DEET. We harvest oil of lemon eucalyptus through a renewable, sustainable, and ethical process with Citrefine to produce products like our Lemon Eucalyptus Oil Insect Repellent Spray (LEO Spray) that provides six hours of protection from mosquitoes and repels ticks for up to four hours.

Additionally, Murphy’s Naturals products are made in the United States and the company has a giveback program that donates 2% of revenue to organizations, such as the Triangle Land Conservancy and the Plastic Ocean Project. This aligns with Murphy’s mission to celebrate nature and inspire good through quality natural products.

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