What Is Picaridin? | A Safe, Effective Tick & Mosquito Repellent – Ranger Ready Repellents™


Facts About Picaridin

 Ranger Ready Repellent chooses Picaridin 20% because it is safe on children and during pregnancy

The Facts About Picaridin

Picaridin is the active ingredient in Ranger Ready and the world’s leading DEET alternative. Compared to DEET, Picaridin provides equal protection against mosquitos and superior protection against ticks in similar concentrations without the same health concerns. Picaridin has already become the most popular insect repellent in Europe and Australia and demand is starting to surge in the United States.

But what exactly is Picaridin? How does it work? What can it protect you from? We’ll explain below.

What is Picaridin?

In the 1980s, German scientists from Bayer were working hard to develop an alternative to DEET that was equally effective at repelling biting insects without the same health risks. While occasional use of DEET had proven to be relatively safe, there were emerging concerns about its long-term effects. DEET is, after all, a neurotoxin, and 15 - 18% of DEET applied to the skin is absorbed into the body. DEET is also a plasticizer, capable of eating through rubber, plastic, leather, vinyl, rayon, spandex, elastic and auto paint. Past all that, it has a distinct odor and feels sticky on the skin. A safer, less damaging alternative had to be out there.


An N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide molecule, otherwise known as DEET.

An N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide molecule, otherwise known as DEET.

Most repellents work by disrupting an insect’s sense of smell, which biting insects use to find suitable sources of food. Knowing this, the scientists modeled three-dimensional molecules that would interfere with an insect’s olfactory receptors while remaining safe and compatible with skin.

Out of the more than 800 substances synthesized and tested, Picaridin was the clear winner. It was odorless, non-greasy, easy on the skin, did not damage plastic and was not a neurotoxin. It was also derived from a naturally occurring organic compound called piperine, the alkaloid that gives black pepper its flavor.

A Picaridin molecule.

A Picaridin molecule.

Scientists had found their safer, effective DEET alternative. Picaridin would go on to become the most popular repellent in Europe and Australia, where it would often be marketed as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, or icaridin. It was not until 2005, however, that Picaridin was approved for sale in the US.

How effective is Picaridin?

The efficacy of Picaridin at repelling biting insects depends on the concentration of Picaridin in your repellent.

Ranger Ready uses Picaridin 20%, which offers 12 hours of protection against ticks, mosquitos and other biting insects. DEET 30%, the most common DEET concentration, offers only 8 hours of protection against ticks and about the same level of protection against mosquitos.

In other words, Picaridin 20% provides longer-lasting protection than similar concentrations of DEET, without the same drawbacks.

    Why haven’t I heard of Picaridin?

    Picaridin 20%In Europe and Australia, where consumers tend to be more skeptical of DEET, Picaridin has been the most popular insect repellent for quite some time. In the US, however, Picaridin was only approved for use since 2005. After careful analysis, scientists found no evidence that Picaridin was toxic or acted as a carcinogen when used as directed, leading the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend Picaridin as an alternative to DEET.

    US consumers, accustomed to using DEET, did not pick up on the potential of Picaridin immediately. But as more and more people get fed up with the risks and drawbacks of using DEET, demand for Picaridin products has spiked, with Ranger Ready leading the way.

    Is Picaridin safe?

    The short answer is that yes, Picaridin is safe, and generally safer than DEET when used as directed. Here’s why:

    Picaridin is EPA-registered.

    Picaridin EPA RegisteredPicaridin was officially registered with the EPA in May of 2005. In the US, EPA registration is the best evidence that a repellent is safe for use and actually effective. In the EPA’s words: “EPA registration of skin-applied repellent products indicates that they have been evaluated and approved for human safety and effectiveness when applied according to instructions on the label. Our evaluation includes assuring that the product does not pose risks to vulnerable populations, including children and pregnant women.”

    Picaridin is CDC-recommended.

    Picaridin CDC RecommendedIn their official documentation regarding “Protection against Mosquitoes, Ticks & Other Arthopods”, the CDC recommends Picaridin as a safe and effective repellent. This decision was based off of the evaluation of a wide variety of scientific literature and data, as well Picaridin’s EPA registration.

    Picaridin is safe for children, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women.

    Picaridin Child SafeAs the EPA has stated, Picaridin is safe for use on children. EPA registration also means the Picaridin is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women as well, making it the perfect choice for protection against mosquitos who might carry Zika.

    Just be sure to use Ranger Ready (and any repellent) in a manner consistent with labeling. Young children should also not apply repellents themselves - apply for them for best results.

    Picaridin has not been tested extensively on pets - but DON’T USE DEET!

    Picaridin DEET FreePicaridin has not been tested extensively on pets, and there are plenty of other protective measures out there to protect your furry friends. As veterinarian Dr. Jason Nichols says on Preventive Vet, “Though [Picaridin] appears to have a wide margin of safety when used on dogs, there are no products specifically licensed for use on dogs that I am currently aware of.”

    You should absolutely NOT use DEET on your pets, however. As Dr. Nichols says: “DEET can be very toxic for dogs, leading to vomiting, staggering, seizures, and other concerning problems. Do not use DEET-containing insect repellents on your dogs and make sure they don’t lick you when you have it on!”

    Picaridin is safe for plastics.

    Picaridin Gear SafePicaridin is not a plasticizer, meaning that it won’t damage your clothing or your camping gear, such as your tent or backpack. DEET, meanwhile, will damage rubber, plastic, leather, vinyl, rayon, spandex, elastic and even auto paint.

    Studies have found no serious health concerns related to Picaridin.

    Scientists have evaluated Picaridin over and over again and found the following facts:

    Picaridin is “practically non-toxic,” does not irritate skin and is “nearly odorless.”

    The EPA’s own evaluation of Picaridin found that, when used as directed, Picaridin had extremely low levels of toxicity, was easy on the skin and was “nearly odorless” - unlike DEET.

    Use of Picaridin has led to almost no ill health effects.

    Published April 2016 in the journal Clinical Toxicology, a wide ranging study of National Poison Data System data found almost no instances of toxic effects stemming from exposure to Picaridin over a 15-year period. Exposures to DEET, meanwhile, led to over 52,000 issues in the same period.

    Picaridin has “the same advantages… without the same disadvantages” as DEET.

    In their 2018 guide to bug repellents, the non-profit Environmental Working Group reviewed a variety of repellent ingredients, including Picaridin, DEET, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus and botanical oils. In their review, Picaridin came out on top, with EWG proclaiming that “picaridin is a good alternative to DEET with many of the same advantages and without the same disadvantages.”

    Picaridin is absorbed into the skin less than DEET.

    According to the National Pesticide Information Center, only about six percent of Picaridin is absorbed into the skin when used as directed. Compare that to DEET, of which up to 18 percent is absorbed into the body with each use.

    Which is the better insect repellent: Picaridin or DEET?

    In our eyes, Picaridin is the better repellent, providing equal or better protection without the same risks as DEET. This table breaks down why:





    Active Ingredient


    8 Hours

    Hours of Tick Protection

    12 Hours

    12 Hours

    Hours of Mosquito Protection

    12 Hours





    Percentage Absorbed into Skin



    Skin Feel

    Clean, Non-Oily


    What does Picaridin protect you against?

    Picaridin protects you against a wide variety of biting insects, including ticks, mosquitos, biting flies, sand flies, gnats, chiggers, no-see-ums and midges.

    Why should you be concerned? Because ticks and mosquitos are some of the deadliest animals in the world.


    TickBelieve it or not, ticks are not insects - they’re arachnids, closer to spiders than mosquitos. They’re also deadly pests capable of spreading multiple diseases in one bite, including:

    • Lyme disease: spread by the blacklegged tick. Early signs are rashes and flu-like symptoms, followed by severe joint pain and neurological problems like facial paralysis, impaired muscle movement, numb or weak limbs and meningitis.

    • Powassan virus: spread by the blacklegged tick and the groundhog tick. Relatively rare, but deadly - it can spread within minutes of a tick bite and lead to encephalitis, meningitis and permanent neurological damage.

    • Alpha-gal syndrome: spread by the Lone Star tick, who transmits a sugar molecule called “alpha-gal” into the body which can produce swelling, digestive issues and a severe allergy to red meat.

    • Babesiosis: spread by the blacklegged tick, who transfers microscopic parasites that infect red blood cells. Can lead to flu-like symptoms as well as anemia and other life-threatening issues.

    • Rocky Mountain spotted fever: spread by the American dog tick. RMSF causes a distinctive spotted rash and flu-like symptoms which can become life-threatening if not treated.


    To most of us, mosquitos are an annoyance, so it’s easy to forget that they’re the deadliest animal in the world. Mosquitos cause over one million deaths every year, mostly due to malaria. In the US, however, the following diseases tend to catch headlines:

    • Zika virus: spread by the Aedes species of mosquito, Zika is especially dangerous for pregnant women, as it can cause birth defects like microcephaly and other problems, such as miscarriage and stillbirth.

    • West Nile virus: West Nile virus can cause serious, long-lasting fevers as well as neurological issues such as encephalitis and meningitis. Fortunately, 8 out of 10 people infected by West Nile virus do not develop any symptoms.

    • Chikungunya virus: recently discovered in the Americas, chikungunya virus can lead to fever, joint pain and headaches, but is usually not fatal.

    • St. Louis encephalitis: after incubating for 5 to 15 days, symptoms of St. Louis encephalitis will emerge abruptly, starting with fever, headaches and dizziness and sometimes progressing to neurological infection.

    Biting Flies

    There are several different species of biting flies that can transmit diseases to humans. These species include sand flies, black flies, gnats and other airborne pests that feed on the blood of other animals. The diseases that these biting flies can pass along include:

    • Leishmaniasis: caused by the Leishmania parasite, this disease can sometimes result in nothing but painless skin ulcers that may not appear for years. However, in more serious cases, leishmaniasis can cause serious symptoms such as sudden weight loss, enlarging of the spleen and liver, and overall weakness of the body.

    • Pappataci fever: also known as “sandfly fever,” pappataci fever can cause weakness, dizziness and a fast-occurring fever that usually passes after a few days. Pappataci fever is not prevalent in the United States, showing up mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere.

    Ready to make the switch? Try Ranger Ready today!



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