This article discusses the harmful effects from breathing in or swallowing bug spray.
This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
The majority of bug repellents contain DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) as their active ingredient. It is one of the few insect repellants that work. DEET is recommended to prevent mosquito-born diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, and West Nile virus.
Other less effective forms of bug sprays contain pyrethrins. Pyrethrins are a pesticide created from the chrysanthemum flower. It is generally considered nontoxic, but it can cause breathing problems if large doses are inhaled.
Bug sprays, or insect repellants, are sold under various brand names.
Borron SW. Pyrethrins, repellants, and other pesticides. In: Shannon MW, Borron SW, Burns MJ, eds. Haddad and Winchester's Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 77.
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