All topical insect repellents sold in Australia must be registered with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (AVPMA), which assesses products for their efficacy and safety.
Topical insect repellents containing DEET and picaridin are safe and effective when used according to the instructions on the label. They are widely used and strongly recommended to reduce risk of mosquito bites. There are many products available. Always check the label for suitability.
A higher concentration of DEET or picaridin does not relate to better effectiveness, only how long the repellent lasts. A lower concentration (that is, 10 to 20%) is recommended – reapply regularly as required.
If a child is unable to use a recommended insect repellent, other mosquito prevention measures (such as remaining indoors when mosquitos are active and wearing long, loose clothing) should be followed.
Using insect repellent
Students and school staff should be encouraged to wear insect repellents that contain picaridin or DEET. Always follow instructions on the product label for recommended age use.
Schools may purchase insect repellent for staff and students to use. Repellent use is strongly recommended and express written parental consent is not required to provide repellent to students. However, parents and carers should be informed and encouraged to discuss use with their children.
A thin, even layer of insect repellent should be applied to all exposed skin and rubbed in to ensure no spots are missed.
Remind students to avoid applying repellent to their hands, eyes and mouth.
Staff and students should follow the below guidance for repellent use:
- Use only as directed by the instructions on the label.
- Sharing roll-on between students is safe, but students with skin infections should use their own product.
- If you need to apply both sunscreen and repellent, apply the sunscreen first.
- Repellent is not water-resistant. It may need to be reapplied frequently, particularly if sweating from heat or exercise.
- Do not use on cuts, wounds or irritated skin.
- Supervise use by younger children and store repellents out of reach of children.
- Always discontinue use if any skin irritation occurs and seek medical advice as required.
Where a student has a known allergy to insect repellent or opts not to use repellent, other mosquito protection measures should be followed.
Purchasing insect repellent
Schools can order insect repellent from a variety of retailers, including chemists, supermarkets and through the stationery state purchasing contract with Complete Office Supplies , using the school’s login details.
Schools should select repellent with the lowest concentration of DEET or picaridin available (for example, 10%) and reapply as required. Lower concentration repellents may include Aerogard Odourless Protection, RID Medicated Insect Repellent Kids + Antiseptic Repellent, and RID Medicated Insect Repellent Low Irritant + Antiseptic Repellent. Higher concentrations do not relate to better effectiveness, only the duration of the effect.
Further information on ordering through COS can be found on the How-to guide for COSnet (staff login required).
Reviewed 29 January 2023