Best Tick Repellent

Keep these disgusting bugs OFF

| Marty Munson, May 17, 2019

Men’s Health – The last thing you want to bring home from a long hike or a quick dog walk is a case of Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, or even a single one of the ticks that carry these (and more) diseases.

But to protect yourself properly, you’ve got to get the right product.

“Many people have the perception that anything that sucks blood can be repelled similarly,” says Thomas N. Mather, Ph.D., founder and director of the Tick Encounter Resource Center at the University of Rhode Island.

But mosquitos, ticks, and fleas have different ways of finding you—“mosquitos fly to you, and ticks don’t fly, and they don’t have eyes,” he says.

“So there’s no reason to think that the same product that would work for a mosquito would work against a tick.”

Use permethrin products to prevent tick bites

“Our experience and our research shows that permethrin products work best as a tick repellent. DEET works effectively against mosquitos and biting flies,” Mather says.

Some people have a hard time believing that permethrin will do the trick since you don’t apply it to yourself, you apply it to your clothes. In other words, if ticks bite you, not your clothes, why does this product work? Mather explains:

Ticks are genetically programmed to walk upward. Even if you’re just wearing shorts and a t-shirt, the tick is eventually going to encounter some of your clothes. When it does, the permethrin affects the ticks’ nervous systems.

“They start stumbling around like drunken fools,” Mather says. Since they can’t fly, they have to hang onto your clothing and you if they want some food.

“But when their nervous systems are disrupted, they can’t do that as well and they stumble and fall off,” he says. The chemical also causes them to die.

In one of many of Mathers’ studies—in which, by the way, participants sat in a room and had ticks placed on their shoes, their knees, and their elbows—he found that people with treated shoes and clothing had far fewer ticks than those whose clothes were untreated. Read more.