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Thread: Permethrin

  1. #1
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    Question Permethrin

    Howdy,

    So I just got a bottle of permethrin, which I've never used before, and the number/length of the warnings is somewhat troubling.

    It must have at least half a dozen warnings to avoid contact with skin, plus it's toxic to other stuff like bees by direct or indirect contact.

    Are these warnings overkill, or is this dangerous to contact?

    I'm thinking about sweeping my concrete garage floor and applying it there (so it doesn't get on my grass and kill any bumblebees) with long pants, long sleeves and a latex glove. Thoughts?

    I'll be treating socks, pants, and shirts- does anyone treat their shoes? How about tent? Backpack?

    Thanks.

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    Registered User ant's Avatar
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    Be sure to keep it away from cats as well.

    I haven't used it yet, but I've read a little. Best to exercise caution according to the labeling I'm thinking

  3. #3

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    I've used about everything for noseeums and currently will take out a bottle of picaridin cream for use on skin in camp. Seems better than permithrin which is a clothing-only treatment---advised to not contact with skin.

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    Mammals break down permethrin. It becomes non-toxic on contact with skin. Permethrin is a non-persistant pesticide. It breaks down pretty quickly when exposed to sunlight.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permethrin

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    not sure if this will be a "is permethrin a good idea" thread or "is it safe to use" thread. On the good idea subject, it is wonderfully effective against ticks, which are not looking for exposed skin, and are awfully good at bypassing sprayed deet-type repellent unless heavily and widely applied. On the safe to use subject, by all means, careful is good. I use an organic vapor respirator and spray it on my clothes on a brick patio. I wouldn't hike without permithrin treated clothing.
    Lazarus

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1azarus View Post
    I wouldn't hike without permithrin treated clothing.
    Ditto.

    Quote Originally Posted by brian.spigel View Post
    does anyone treat their shoes? How about tent? Backpack?
    Yes, yes, and yes. Well, hammock actually.
    ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: ... Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit..... Numbers 35

    www.MeetUp.com/NashvilleBackpacker

    .

  7. #7
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    Ditto on Rain Man and 1azarus' comments. I spray my clothes outside on the driveway, and spray my shoes, backpack, hammock, and hammock straps. Next year, I'm sending my clothes out for professional treatment at https://www.insectshield.com/default.aspx

    Couple of anecdotes on permethrin effectiveness: on a hike with my older son, we walked through some tick-infested fields. My clothes were treated, his were not. Even though I walked in front, he had 20 ticks on his clothes for each 1 tick on mine. On a hike last weekend, I watched a bug crawl up my treated pant leg for a few inches before it keeled over and dropped off. I'm convinced.

    I'm also a doubting Thomas, but I'll risk the exposure to permethrin to reduce my chances of contracting Lyme or Powassan, especially considering where I live and hike, and the number of friends, relatives, and acquaintances suffering from the long term effects of tick-borne diseases.

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    It is my understanding that the really toxic chemicals are in the vehicle not the residue. In other words it is toxic until it evaporates but not after. I will not be offended if someone knows better. I would be curious to know. I have used Permethrin for two years and during that time and after 550 miles on the AT I have never found a tick on my person. I have pulled many off my dog so I know they were out there.

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    To settle my mind I reached out to an old family friend who's a retired dermatologist, and I got a very quick response.

    Permethrin is used to treat scabies and lice in humans by applying it directly to the skin at 5% concentration, and my OTC permethrin spray is 0.5%. So it's basically harmless to humans when used responsibly, just follow the directions and don't go adding it to your ice cream sundaes.

    Definitely dangerous to cats, friendly insects, and aquatic life.

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    I used my garage floor to apply the spray to my clothes. But first I put a couple pieces of old nylon tent I am using as a ground cloth, sit cloth . . . and put the clothes on it. The overspray then treated the ground contact items.
    Seems better than the hanging versions shown in various videos.

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    Its not dangerous to cats once its been applied properly to clothes and dried. Where its toxic to cats is when its applied to the cat either directly or indirectly. Permethrin is used as a lawn spray for ticks so obviously it wouldn't be great idea to let the cat out during application. Cats groom their fur so if they get soaked with it they will groom it off and unlike dogs and people they can not process it. If you are paranoid there is place you can send your clothes away. Realistically its not optional if you are going to be outdoors as the list of potential diseases seem to expand every year.

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    Anyone know why it lasts for so much longer when sent away vs spraying it yourself? I think my container said good for 7 washings. But is is like 10x that when sent away.

  13. #13

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    I definitely killed a couple of bees the first time I treated my clothing in my yard. I now use my tent fly as a tarp on my garage floor when I treat items.

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    I lay out an old cotton bedsheet in my garage to spray. I wear gloves when spraying, and keep the garage doors open.

    Yes, lots of warnings, but ticks are worse.
    Ken B
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    I use it and suggest everyone use it.

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    Thanks for all the responses yall.

    Another question I have, that my dermatologist friend can't answer, is this: the instructions say that one treatment lasts about two weeks, they say not to apply more than once every two weeks, and to launder item at least once before reapplying. If you put all those things together, it means I have to wash my tent once every two weeks in order to keep applying permethrin through the season. That doesn't seems right.

    Is this another one of the warnings that I should ignore as overkill?

    BTW, it's Bug Blocker brand spray.

  17. #17
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    Hug. The Sawyer spray suggests it will last through 7 washings, IIRC. That's all season for me, for clothing anyway. I would think your tent will be fine for months since you are unlikely to put it through the washing machine
    Ken B
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  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by SkeeterPee View Post
    Anyone know why it lasts for so much longer when sent away vs spraying it yourself? I think my container said good for 7 washings. But is is like 10x that when sent away.
    Sawyer DIY spray is effective for 6 weeks or 6 washings. The InsectShield treatment is effective for 70 washings, basically the life of the garment. Because both the spray-on permethrin and the InsectShield-processed garments are registered pesticides, they had to demonstrate efficacy to support these claims, so they are pretty reliable. I'd suspect the reason that the InsectShield treatment effectiveness is so much longer is that they are able to either apply more molecules of permethrin (at a particular concentration) to the article and/or cause the permethrin to adsorb onto the material with a stronger bond than is possible with a spray. I'd suspect the clothing is tumbled in a permethrin solution under pressure, but that's pure speculation on my part.

    I tend to use InsectShield treated clothing (bought that way or sent in for treatment) because it's more convenient and probably cheaper than repeated sprays. I use the spray for shoes and gear like trekking pole straps, pack, sit pad and lower areas of my tent. I wash the treated clothing on gentle and line dry in the shade.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SkeeterPee View Post
    Anyone know why it lasts for so much longer when sent away vs spraying it yourself? I think my container said good for 7 washings. But is is like 10x that when sent away.
    It's my understanding that it is the very high heat of the dryer which helps make the bond between the permethrin and the fabric stronger. I think this might even be described, to a certain degree, on the insect shield website, and/or you can infer it from the instructions and guidelines for sending in your own clothing for treatment.

    I agree, it is cheaper in the long run to do it this way and certainly makes things easier by not having to do the treatment or re-treatment, air your stuff out, cause your own laundry machine or dryer to smell, etc. You just write the check, so to speak. For me it's a no-brainer, so long as it really does work as long as they say it does. The fabrics do feel a bit different when they come back, and even after washing. Clearly, something is going on.

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    I used self-applied military permethrin spray treatments and wash treatments for decades. Last year I used (expensive) civilian Sawyer spray-on treatment. This year I purchased a 37% solution which is intended as an interior and exterior DIY insecticide and termitecide for various critters when mixed with water to various strengths of solution. I will use it for that but I will also dilute to 0.5% which Sawyer and the military use for clothing treatment and spray it on clothing etc. Much, much, much cheaper than buying 0.5% by the quart. Maybe the clothing-specific treatments have some special carriers which allow it to better penetrate and adhere to fabric...but I look for and failed to find any evidence of this. So I doubt it.

    If I get Lyme disease or toxic hepatitis I'll be sure and let ya'll know.

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