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any permethrin users out there?
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Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Permethrin negatives.... on 07/11/2012 11:35:55 MDT Print View

Some quotes from James' link:

"Pyrethroid insecticides are some of the most widely used pesticides in the world because they are believed to be less harmful to humans than other pesticides."

"The most dangerous route is inhalation through the lungs, as this allows the chemical to move directly to target sites (e.g., the brain) without being metabolized by the liver and other organs.[...] Absorption through the skin is slow and it appears that only a fraction of the applied chemical penetrates the skin, thus reducing its toxicity via this route.[...] Among the general population, ingestion (usually as residues on food) is the most common way that people are exposed to permethrin. The health department advises “Make sure you wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating them”"

Every so often someone shows up ranting about the dangers of DEET and Permethrin. (I'm not saying that James is doing so- this is just a general observation.) These tend to be the same people who are unrepentant smokers because "it's natural" and they all recommend various alternatives that are essentially placebos- citronella, lemon oil, eucalyptus, etc. (There actually is one other agent out there that's meant to be applied to skin and that might have decent efficacy and probably is less neurotoxic than DEET, but I forget what the name of it is...)

The TEDX website that James linked is dedicated to enumerating possible causes for people with very obscure endocrinological derangements, no matter how much of a stretch it might be. Needless to say, this is not most people. If you actually look up the toxicological studies on permethrin you'll see that the doses required to have a clinically detectable effect upon a human are absurdly high.

DEET, as I have said, is another matter. I'll take permethrin over DEET any day of the week, but even DEET doesn't scare me- it's just an annoyance unless you're an idiot. Mostly I hate the greasy carriers that it comes in more than any worry about toxicity. As several people here have said, it is probably more useful to simply dress appropriately- so I do that and carry a headnet if it is needed, and since my bloodsucking threat is more crawlies than fliers I use permethrin if I use anything at all.

But I do pity those of you in Minnesota and Alaska and other places where the mosquitoes carry off cats and have unions and all.

EDIT-- Aha! That other stuff for skin application is called picardin (or icardin), and it is used more in Europe and Australia. Honestly I don't know much about it but it is touted as being less toxic than DEET.

But it, DEET, and permethrin are the ONLY agents able to be applied to humans that have been proven to have ANY durable effect. Not lemon oil, not eucalyptus, not citronella, etc. If anyone says otherwise they have bad data- usually from the manufacturer involved. :) And I quiblle with the word "durable" because some of them do have an effect for five or ten minutes or so- that's how the manufacturers have their "scientific studies" showing that they are effective.

Edited by acrosome on 07/11/2012 11:50:55 MDT.

Jeremy and Angela
(requiem) - F

Locale: Northern California
Re: Re: Permethrin negatives.... on 07/11/2012 12:05:11 MDT Print View

(There actually is one other agent out there that's meant to be applied to skin and that might have decent efficacy and probably is less neurotoxic than DEET, but I forget what the name of it is...)

I believe that's Picaridin (spelling may vary). Supposed to perform as well as DEET without the side effect of melting plastics.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Re: Permethrin negatives.... on 07/11/2012 13:12:26 MDT Print View

Dean, I have no problems using permethrin and DEET in combination to avert the black flies in spring and following hords of mosquitoes, then punkies in the ADK's. I just don't like to recommend a poison to be in constant contact with anyone without their knowlege and through ignorance. I do indeed use it, just never recommend it. People should choose for themselves after their own research.

Citronella does NOT work well in the ADK's. Nor, eucalyptus. Picardin does not last as long as DEET. 2-3 applications over a couple days will hold me about a week with maybe one more application. I have to use 4-5 applications of Picardin per day...tried it. It does not build up a layer on my cloths (around cuffs, collars, and hat brims) as well as DEET.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
Re: Re: Re: Permethrin negatives.... on 07/12/2012 08:24:43 MDT Print View

Yeah, I knew where you were coming from, James. My interest was piqued only because links like that can sometimes scare people who don't know any better. They see mention of scary effects on the brain, confusion, tremors, convulsions, etc., and they don't realize that they'd actually have to DRINK a mug of the stuff to get that effect. "My God- it mucks with my BRAIN CHEMISTRY ?!?" So I was just trying to put it in perspective.

I read up quite a lot on both permethrin and DEET- by which I mean the actual scientific studies- when this same discussion came up here a couple of years ago and I gotta say I feel perfectly safe using permethrin. Flea/tick/louse-vectored rickettsial diseases scare me a HECK of a lot more than the permethrin!

PS- All substances are poisons. It's just a matter of dose. :)

Edited by acrosome on 07/12/2012 08:34:01 MDT.

Michael Ray
(thaddeussmith) - F
Permethrin and DEET on 03/12/2013 14:51:53 MDT Print View

Sorry to bump an old thread.. I've never been a heavy DEET user, but over the last few years I've started developing horrible skin reactions to the stuff. I have to search out the DEET free offerings if I want any skin coverage. Someone recommended I treat my clothes/tarp with Permethrin before a trip into the woods, but I was curious if anyone with a similar DEET tolerance (or lack thereof) could comment on Permethrin and skin sensitivity.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Permethrin and DEET on 03/12/2013 15:02:33 MDT Print View

I don't think that you want to put concentrated DEET on your skin. I've been known to dab a little or spray a little on my clothing in areas where body heat will vaporize it. Permethrin is much milder, and you get the chemical thoroughly into the clothing fabric for it to do any good. Alaskan black flies didn't seem to like the stuff at all, but they were adept at finding exposed skin somewhere.

The solution is: use both. Get the Permethrin into your clothing fabric as level one protection. Then apply some DEET to critical spots on your clothing as the threat increases.

I use DEET from a tiny atomizer, and I use Permethrin from a large spray can.


Michael Ray
(thaddeussmith) - F
Re: Re: Permethrin and DEET on 03/12/2013 15:21:16 MDT Print View

Thanks Bob, good info. I don't use the concentrated DEET..even the mild and diluted consumer-grade stuff gives me a rash. I use deet free stuff that works well for mosquitos, but I am hoping to use something like Permethrin for tent, socks, pant legs, etc to do a better job against ticks. I just don't want to have skin reactions in these areas where I'll have contact.

just Justin Whitson
Re: any permethrin users out there? on 03/12/2013 15:59:20 MDT Print View

I believe that "Lemon Eucalyptus oil" has shown some definite efficacy, though it's not as long lasting as DEET.

Unfortunately, the natural stuff tends to get less funding and testing overall than the synthesized or the occasional stuff which is concentrated, processed, and distilled from natural. Ok, maybe the exception is exotic Amazon type plants which some drug companies do sometimes spend lots of money and research on.

Large corporations are less interested in things which people can obtain more easily, cheaply, make themselves, etc. They like specialized or patented stuff--easier to make money off of, and at the end of the day, to many larger corporations, banks, and governments you are less an individual person and more a walking $ sign and/or number.

There are things out there which can and should be tested more like Karanja oil.

Re: DEET, Permethrin, etc. lately i lean towards James Marco's stance when it comes to others--people should decide for themselves with all available information. However, it's important to point out that humanity currently lives in an unprecedented age as far as various toxins go. Our food, our air, our water, our oceans, our soils, our living spaces, etc. all contain various toxins, and in many cases or areas--increasing levels of same.

It's also important to point out that modern medicine is still an evolving science with A LOT of room for growth and evolution. Toxicological studies and research generally are kind of "blunt" in the sense that they look for obvious damage and to important, critical organs and bodily systems. Once you get to the levels to do that much damage, it's usually means you're screwed more long term and there may be lasting damage. There are far less studies and research as a whole which research, long term but much smaller amounts, which can over time cause more chronic and SUBTLE issues which can then cause body imbalances hard to pinpoint.

Having spent many years trying to balance an imbalanced body (which happened through a combo of crappy diet, stress, so called (pharma) "medicine", our increasingly toxic environment, etc), personally i try to avoid anything which may add to the toxic load and that includes a very wide range of stuff. It's not fun having chronic and uncomfortable body imbalances...

I would be open to possibly using clothes with just the outside sprayed with permethrin, as it seems less likely to cause issues, however with netting etc i've been pretty fine so far.

Also, the more and more people use permethrin, the more and more likely it is that different bugs will eventually start to adapt to it. This HAS started to happen with DEET and mosquitoes in some places.

Edited by ArcturusBear on 03/12/2013 16:02:43 MDT.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
My Experiences on 03/12/2013 16:12:24 MDT Print View

I find most natural pest solutions to be useless, except permethrin(spelling?) for tick control.

My clothes are treated with permethrin and I watch ticks crawl on my clothing and die.

I used to put lemon eucalyptus on my neck and bandanna and found that certain mosquitoes were attracted to my neck and bandanna.

I even took the bandanna off and laid it on the ground to look at it covered in mosquitoes.

Head nets, long sleeves and long pants are the best way to go when bugs get real bad.
And for tick control, definitely permethrin is the way to go, but make sure you use it correctly.

just Justin Whitson
Re: My Experiences on 03/12/2013 16:22:50 MDT Print View

I've never had much luck with any one particular and isolated "natural" thing, but last latish spring in the White Mountains, i had made a concoction of Karanja oil with various essential oils from plants, and found it helped with mosquitoes.

However, it didn't seem to do much for the black flies. Nothing seemed to do much for them, not my friends DEET spray either. I however, put on my over the hat netting, and could tolerate it wheras the poor fellow i was with, was eaten alive.

Slight edit. I did experiment with eating a crap load of garlic, over a few days, and it did really decrease mosquito attraction.

Edited by ArcturusBear on 03/12/2013 16:24:17 MDT.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Black Flies on 03/12/2013 16:27:57 MDT Print View

Yes, black flies and many other bugs don't seem to be repelled by anything.
So in the spring in the Northeast Mountains, I cover every part of exposed skin with clothing and wear a head-net on breaks or in camp.

I still get bites on my hands, I just can't wear gloves when it's warm out.

just Justin Whitson
Re: Black Flies on 03/12/2013 16:32:43 MDT Print View

Steven, does the Permethrin kill and/or repel black flies at all?

obx hiker
(obxcola) - MLife

Locale: Outer Banks of North Carolina
permethrin on 03/12/2013 16:41:28 MDT Print View

If your interested in stopping arachnids (ticks/chiggers) copied below is an old post on a simple effective and MINIMAl system using permethrin that has been "field tested" almost daily for years in local (from my experience extreme) conditions and it WORKS

I took an old pair of thicker acrylic socks and cheap gym sweat-shorts, cut out the feet of the socks and cut off the waistband of the sweatshorts and treated those to a permethrin soak. Wear the old socks as gaiters over socks above your shoe/boots and the waist-band goes there over your pants and presto no next to skin contact and the main access points are BLOCKED. This system has been used almost daily for years and STOPS chiggers and ticks.

Mosqitoes and other flying insects are another issue and personally I rely on lightweight and light colored long-sleeves and pants treated with permethrin in extreme situations.

Repel Permanone spray comes in a .5% solution. they're proud of it! an 8 oz. can cost @ $10.00. The local Wal-mart has a horse dip solution sold by the quart for @ the same $ that's a 2.5% solution so add 4 parts water and you have the .5% if you want to make a soak at MUCH less expense than buying the kit sold by Sawyer. Plus you'll only use a fraction of the dip and you can retreat each spring. I'm on year 4 with the first quart treating pants/shirt/"gaiter-socks and waistband. I mostly use the gaiters and waistband, occasional the shirt as like a jacket over a tee and rarely the pants. Funny thing I was just getting ready to re-do my basic "bug" kit for 2013 You can find lots of info on treating clothing by googling.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Permethrin on 03/12/2013 16:57:30 MDT Print View

obx hiker has the plan.

Regarding permethrin and back flies,
Permethrin is not a repellent, it kills, but only after a certain amount of time. Also, you don't put permethrin on your skin.

Permethrin works very well with ticks, which are extremely dangerous, if you follow the guidelines.

Although black flies are very annoying, they are not as dangerous as dear ticks.
If they should come in contact with permethrin treated clothes, they can still bite before they kick the bucket a few minutes later.

Ticks crawl up your clothing so permethrin is effective in their case, reducing the chances of them causing Lyme Disease.

Sam Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
Permethrin on 03/12/2013 19:34:00 MDT Print View

1. When sprayed on pant legs and socks, it has prevented ticks from attaching. When not used in warm weather, ticks have attached. When not used again after pants and socks have been washed, ticks have attached in warm weather. This has been the case during over 20 years of frequent hiking and bushwhacking through tick infested areas around Mount Chocorua.

2. For flying insects, DEET is much more effective.

3. The toxicity of permethrin on the skin is not clear; but I would never use it on the skin when DEET is available. No point. For that reason, I would never wear clothing impregnated with permethrin. Toxic effects can take many years to develop, so the fact that it seems to work without noticeable side effects when impregnated in clothing is of little consolation to me. All the permethrin products I've seen bear a warning to avoid contact with skin.

4. CONCLUSION: I use the minimum amount needed to keep ticks from attaching, and no longer bushwack in moist and low lying areas here in warmer weather. The 'hardened' trails offer avenues in which vegetation will not be brushing me above the pant legs.
I greatly miss bushwacking in warmer weather, but the increasing prevalence of deer ticks, that often carry Lyme disease, is too great a concern. I've gone through the Giardia nightmares. The Lyme nightmares can be much worse. Not for me, thanks.

Michael Ray
(thaddeussmith) - F
Re: Permethrin on 03/12/2013 19:40:55 MDT Print View

again, great info. thanks!

Jan S
Re: Permethrin on 03/12/2013 20:37:06 MDT Print View

"Permethrin works very well with ticks, which are extremely dangerous"

Uhm, ticks are not extremely dangerous. They are extremely annoying and a bite from them puts you at risk to get Lyme disease, which can be very well treated with antibiotics and Tick-borne encephalitis. You can get shots (at least in Germany) for Tick-borne encephalitis.

The risk to get Lyme disease is actually pretty low – about 1% of tick bites result in Lyme disease, again according to Wikipedia. That said: If you have been bitten by a tick it helps to know the symptoms and keep a close eye on the spot where tick bite was. Also improper removal techniques (drown them in oil, turn them till the come out) increase the infection risk.

Tick-borne encephalitis is a different matter and in the high risk areas you really need to have got your shots. But in North America there are no high risk areas – I'm not even sure ticks carry the virus there.

There are a couple other illnesses but these two are the main risks. Here in Germany I've had about 3 tick bites in my whole life and have never used any chemical treatment in my clothes and have certainly not been very careful to avoid them. YMMV of course but even if you're bitten by one it's not extremely dangerous.

Edited by karl-ton on 03/12/2013 20:44:04 MDT.

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Tick-borne diseases on 03/12/2013 23:22:21 MDT Print View

Everyone will have a different risk tolerance for tick-borne diseases, so "extremely dangerous" is a judgement call.

A couple of short stories:

I was bit by a tick in my sleep about 10 years ago while backpacking, and groggily scratched it off without realizing what happened. Within 24 hours, I had a half-grapefruit sized infected swelling on my chest, so I cut my trip short and hiked out a painful 10 miles. The doctor gasped from across the room when he saw it. Diagnosis: staph infection. He claimed staph was much more likely than Lyme disease or other exotic diseases, but potentially deadly. He used a magic marker to draw a circle around the swelling, and told me to go to the emergency room if it got any bigger. I got a strong round of oral Cipro, and recovered fully. Don't know what the outcome might have been with a different strain of staph (e.g. MRSA), or a multi-day hike out.

Lyme Disease often goes unnoticed or misdiagnosed, until it has progressed pretty far. My best friend went through years of disability and several rounds of IV antibiotics because of this.

So tick bites are borderline "extremely dangerous" in my opinion.

Still, I don't worry much about ticks. I stay out of the tall weeds in the spring, and check myself after hiking. If a tick is removed correctly and quickly, and the wound cleaned well and kept clean, your chance of infection with anything is pretty low. I'd rather not have a lot of chemicals around me.

But your risk evaluation will be different.

Edited by Rex on 03/12/2013 23:23:36 MDT.

just Justin Whitson
Re: permethrin on 03/13/2013 11:08:13 MDT Print View

Thank you for the good tips Obx hiker. I think i shall try that method in the near future. I wonder if i can get that horse dip stuff at Tractor Supply or some other place.

obx hiker
(obxcola) - MLife

Locale: Outer Banks of North Carolina
Re: Re: Permethrin on 03/13/2013 22:19:57 MDT Print View

"The risk to get Lyme disease is actually pretty low – about 1% of tick bites result in Lyme disease, again according to Wikipedia."

Now that might be one of the most curious remarks I've ever seen posted on BPL
I can say that this isn't Germany..... around here someone spending one day in the wrong woods...... lots of underbrush.... plenty of warm-blooded 4-legged mammals.... could easily pick one hundred ticks off their clothing or body. I've known people to get so many tick bites from one misadventure they had to get a prednizone shot just to calm the itching.

I would advise our dear readers in the US to completely discount that statement

You talk about fools rushing in where angels fear to tread. Golly. I thought only Americans had a tough time with math and evaluating statistical risks. That comment has me floored seriously.

I'll bet you don't have to worry too much about Anacondas in Germany either. Lucky thing and by an amazing coincidence neither do we. Whew! that was close! Now about those pythons in the everglades......