Insect repellents and contact urticaria: differential response to DEET and picaridin

Cutis. 2013 Jun;91(6):280-2.


Topical insect repellent is commonly used throughout the world. Active ingredients typically include N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET) or picaridin. Reactions to topical repellents have ranged from contact dermatitis to urticaria. Exposure to DEET can produce contact urticaria; however, it is unknown if patients with a sensitivity to DEET can tolerate picaridin. We report the case of a 22-year-old man who presented for evaluation of contact urticaria that had developed immediately after the application of insect repellent and contact with individuals who had used DEET-containing repellents. No systemic manifestations were noted. Commercially available products containing DEET or picaridin were used for open patch testing. The patient showed immediate urticarial responses to 7% DEET and 7% DEET in ethanol, but patch tests for 5% picaridin and 5% picaridin in ethanol were negative. Based on these results, we conclude that insect repellents containing picaridin may be acceptable alternatives in patients who demonstrate sensitivity to products containing DEET.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • DEET / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Insect Repellents / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Patch Tests
  • Piperidines / adverse effects*
  • Urticaria / chemically induced*
  • Urticaria / diagnosis
  • Young Adult


  • Insect Repellents
  • Piperidines
  • DEET
  • picaridin