Home » Clean Travel » A Nontoxic Option for Zika Protection?

A Nontoxic Option for Zika Protection?

Maia headshot
Written by Maia, President

Even those of us in wintery climates can’t ignore headlines about the mosquito-born Zika virus. The World Health Organization has declared a public health emergency as experts scramble to understand more about the virus.

Zika’s certainly on my radar. My family and I are escaping the snow to go to the Bahamas next week, and in May, I’m traveling to Nicaragua for a wedding. I’m not planning another pregnancy, but many of my friends are worried about Zika. And apparently it’s not only a concern for women and their babies. Zika is also linked to Guillain-Barre syndrome, an autoimmune condition that involves temporary paralysis and can be serious, even fatal.

What About Non-Toxic Bug Spray for Zika?

When it comes to fending off pesky mosquitoes, I normally shy away from chemical insect repellents and recommend this natural bug spray.
Sawyers Fishermans Formula
But Zika is a different story. To ward off mosquitoes carrying serious health risks, I would feel better with something stronger. Fortunately, experts are saying that you don’t have to resort to DEET, which is a neurotoxin.

Better Than DEET for Zika Protection

It turns out that Picaridin—a milder chemical–may actually perform better than DEET when it comes to Zika protection. Consumer Reports showed that Picaridin is more effective at repelling the Aedes mosquito, the type that carries the Zika virus.

Here’s more good news: unlike DEET, Picaridin did not cause cancer in animal studies, nor did it appear to lead to reproductive damage. It’s also less likely than DEET to irritate your skin.

Human studies on Picaridin are lacking, and Picaridin is by no means entirely non-toxic, but I would feel okay using it in a place where there are Zika-carrying mosquitoes, given the risks of this virus.

Check out Picaridin products like Sawyer’s Fisherman’s Formula, which you can get on Amazon. I would never apply this product directly to the skin, but plan to put it on our clothing when we are in mosquito-heavy areas.

Stay sane,




P.S. I also read that the Aedes variety of mosquito likes the smell of feet, so you might consider shoes and socks for yourself or your kids if you’re in a Zika-affected region of the world.


7 responses to “A Nontoxic Option for Zika Protection?”

  1. What do you think about erbaviva organic buzz spray? I use it on my 10 month old and it is amazing. I mist it lightly over him and myself before we go for walks during the summer and the flies, bees and mosquitoes stay away! I forgot to use it one day last week and wow. I immediately realized I forgot it due to all the little pests buzzing around the stroller.

    1. I don’t know this brand, but looking into it!

  2. What are your thoughts on mosquito bracelets? Are the safe and effective? Is there a brand you’d recommend? Thanks!

  3. Is it safe for kids?

    1. It’s acceptable, in my opinion, if you are at risk of lyme disease, Zika, etc.

  4. Is this safe to use during pregnancy/lactation?

    1. Hi!
      I actually don’t know the answer to that very good question! You should take it up with your doctor, but the Environmental Working Group does say it’s safe for pregnant women.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.