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Safe to Use Permethrin on Cycling Clothing? (Tick bite prevention)

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Safe to Use Permethrin on Cycling Clothing? (Tick bite prevention)

Old 05-27-17, 06:10 PM
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SPiN 360
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Safe to Use Permethrin on Cycling Clothing? (Tick bite prevention)

I love to ride on those forest trails, but understandably I am very concerned about avoiding tick bites.

Next best BikeForums thread on ticks is: Are ticks and such a concern to you?

This has been on my mind ever since I wiped out and went tumbling in the long grass.
Here's what I'm thinking of, in order to avoid getting bitten:

1. Get some of those Leg Chillers / Leg Coolers.
2. Treat socks and leg coolers with permethrin spray.
3. Wear those socks over the leg coolers.
4. Any tick that tries to climb up will have to climb over a lot of nylon / spandex treated with permethrin before they can hit any skin, meaning the tick will fall off and die.

Now I have some concerns about this:


- Has anyone observed any kind of damage to cycling shoes if they are sprayed with permethrin?

- Cycling bibs and leg coolers are basically "underwear". Is there any concern about wearing permethrin clothing close to the skin? Could it be dangerous to humans? I thought permethrin is not supposed to be used on skin.

- Secondly, I've read that permethrin is damaged by skin oils. Will the tight-fitting nature of cycling clothing basically making permethrin treatment pointless?

Let's get a discussion started. Has anyone tried these methods? Are there better methods? Comments?
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Old 05-27-17, 06:22 PM
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I read that Wiki link you posted. It seems to answer all your concerns. As with any OTC topical insecticide, discontinue use if any skin irritation is noted. Millions of kids scalps are slathered with this stuff. Just keep in mind it kills beneficial insects as well.
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Old 05-27-17, 06:31 PM
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I almost never have beneficial insects like honey bees try to crawl up my legs, so I don't have too many qualms in that department. I would not trade the life devastation of lyme disease for saving the life of a few insects.
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Old 05-27-17, 06:32 PM
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I think it's more a question of following the directions and warnings on the label of whatever you're using.

I don't expect that there will be any more damage to bike clothing than any other clothing, however the wicking properties of high tech fabrics may possibly be affected. In any case, given the stakes and legitimate concerns about ticks, I wouldn't be worrying about my bike clothing.
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Old 05-27-17, 06:36 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
I think it's more a question of following the directions and warnings on the label of whatever you're using.

I don't expect that there will be any more damage to bike clothing than any other clothing, however the wicking properties of high tech fabrics may possibly be affected. In any case, given the stakes and legitimate concerns about ticks, I wouldn't be worrying about my bike clothing.
I'm not too worried about a $40 pair of leg coolers. I just want to know if the permethrin will be effective due to the fact that skin oils or similar will render the permethrin ineffective.
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Old 05-27-17, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by SPiN 360 View Post
I'm not too worried about a $40 pair of leg coolers. I just want to know if the permethrin will be effective due to the fact that skin oils or similar will render the permethrin ineffective.
I suspect it may require a re-treatment after each ride.
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Old 05-27-17, 07:15 PM
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I think this link might have all the info you could possibly want.

University of Rhode Island TickEncounter Resource Center
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Old 05-27-17, 07:16 PM
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Originally Posted by SPiN 360 View Post
I'm not too worried about a $40 pair of leg coolers. I just want to know if the permethrin will be effective due to the fact that skin oils or similar will render the permethrin ineffective.
Permethrin is the active ingredient, and sold under many different formulations, using various vehicles, and probably in various concentrations.

Direct skin contact must be OK, subject to individual sensitivity, because it's used as a wash or shampoo for lice and the like.

So this is another case of the devil being in the details, and I repeat my early suggestion to read and follow the indications on the label.
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Old 05-27-17, 07:34 PM
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it's lethal to tics, so don't get any of that stuff on them.
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Old 05-27-17, 07:39 PM
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Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post
it's lethal to tics, so don't get any of that stuff on them.
I know that some drugs can cause tics, but never heard reference to anything being fatal to them.

OTOH - ticks can be killed a number of ways, including with pesticides.
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Old 05-27-17, 07:43 PM
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Old 05-28-17, 05:16 AM
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There are permethrin-treated gaiters/sleeves available. The treated socks are all geared toward hunting boots, not amenable to cycling shoes.
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Old 05-28-17, 06:16 AM
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How long of a ride is it? Maybe you're overthinking it. Seems it takes forever for ticks to find a spot and settle in--I've woken up in the middle of the night with one of those little buggers finally finding a spot. Perhaps just a good careful post-ride inspection is all you need.

Personally I don't get worried about ticks, probably should as they are all around and I have some friends who have suffered with Lyme's. Long pants and checking myself afterwards is all I do.
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Old 05-28-17, 12:35 PM
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I spray hiking and cycling clothes with Permathrin and have not noticed and effect on those clothes. I was surprised to see on the URI website on ticks that clothes are actually soaked in the stuff. There is Lyme disease and other diseases one can come down with as well from tick bites. We may all have to step up out prevention efforts.
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Old 05-28-17, 02:36 PM
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Fortunately ticks don't seem to bother people here, but seem to get on dogs regularly. The ticks were annoying when I was in Missouri.

I believe DEET mosquito repellent is effective against ticks. Possibly other repellents too.

Anyway, it may be an alternative to using an insecticide.
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Old 05-28-17, 06:14 PM
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Here's a little perspective on permethrin.

The stuff you apply to clothing (Sawyer's, etc). is 0.5 %.

Years ago at work I had the pleasure of performing CPR on a patient later found to have scabies. I had to use permethrin cream to ensure I wasn't next. This cream is 5%, ten times the strength of the clothing treatment. And I had to apply it OVER EVERY INCH OF MY BODY AND SLEEP WITH IT ON, showering in the morning. No ill effects.

The stuff one applies directly to the skin of your faithful pooch (Advantix) is 44% permethrin, 88 times the potency of Sawyers. I've been using it on my good boy all his life and he is approaching 14.

Stop worrying.

Last edited by kaos joe; 05-28-17 at 08:30 PM.
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Old 05-28-17, 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by kaos joe View Post
The stuff one applies directly to the skin of your faithful pooch (Advantix) is 44% permethrin, 88 times the potency of Sawyers. I've been using it on my good boy all his life and he is approaching 14.

Stop worrying.
May be fine for the hound but for cats it is one of the most common forms of poisoning so if treating fido keep it away from fluffy.
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Old 05-29-17, 09:32 AM
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I get by with cheaper cycling clothes, tick prevention (if I rode around them) would be far more of a concern to me than worries about the longevity of the clothing.
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Old 05-29-17, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Fortunately ticks don't seem to bother people here, but seem to get on dogs regularly. The ticks were annoying when I was in Missouri.

I believe DEET mosquito repellent is effective against ticks. Possibly other repellents too.

Anyway, it may be an alternative to using an insecticide.
DEET will damage most synthetic fabics.
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Old 05-29-17, 11:32 AM
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I've never had any visible effect on synthetic clothing from deet or permathrin. In the woods I wear long pants and low gaiters just ankle high. The gaiters I sprayed heavily with permathrin. Deet though, ruined a pocket compass by attacking the acrylic body to make it cloudy, almost melted in places.
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Old 05-29-17, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by berner View Post
I've never had any visible effect on synthetic clothing from deet or permathrin. In the woods I wear long pants and low gaiters just ankle high. The gaiters I sprayed heavily with permathrin. Deet though, ruined a pocket compass by attacking the acrylic body to make it cloudy, almost melted in places.
It might depend on the concentration. The DEET stuff I bought in New Zealand had a warning that it will damage synthetics. Those sandflies in NZ where nasty but the DEET worked great.
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