Insect Repellents and Your Kids
Warmer weather means fun time outside, making memories, but it also means, bugs, bugs, bugs! One solution for repelling bugs is using bug spray, but is it safe for your children? Insect repellents
come in many forms such as aerosols, sprays, liquids, creams and sticks. Some are made from chemicals, while others have natural ingredients. Repellents work for insects that bite such as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, chiggers, biting fleas, but does not work for insects that sting like bees, hornets, and wasps.
Listed below are the different types of insect repellents on the market, as well as explanations on whether or not it is safe for your child to use them.
- Chemical repellents with DEET: Considered the best defense against biting insects. It works for about 2 to 5 hours. Caution should be used when applying DEET repellent to children.
- Picaridin and essential oil repellents: Works for about 3 to 8 hours. Still needs more studies to show how well it repels ticks. Since it is made from essential oils, allergic reactions can occur.
- Chemical repellents with permethrin: A repellent that kills ticks on contact. Survives several washings and should only be applied on clothing.
- Non-effective repellents: Wristbands with chemical repellents, garlic or vitamin B1 taken by mouth, ultrasonic devices that give off sound, bird or bat houses, and backyard bug zappers.
How to Use Repellents Safely
When using repellents for your children it is important to know how to properly use them. According to your pediatrician in, it is important to:
- Read the label and follow the directions
- Only apply the repellent outside of clothing and on exposed skin
- Spray in an open area
- Use only enough to cover your child’s clothing and exposed skin
- An adult should always apply insect repellent on your child
- Wash your child with soap and water to remove the repellent when your child returns indoors
If you want to take extra steps besides using insect repellents, there are many steps that you can take to avoid insect bites. These protective measures include:
- Dressing your child in thin, loose-fitting, long-sleeve clothing that doesn't include bright colors
- Encouraging your child to wear socks and shoes instead of sandals
- Avoiding spending time outdoors during the evening to early morning hours (dusk to dawn). This is when mosquitoes tend to bite the most
- Avoiding scented soaps and other things that might attract mosquitoes and other bugs
- Using a bug screen over your child's stroller
- Controlling mosquitoes and other insects where your child plays
Using insect repellent can make playing outside much more enjoyable for your child. If you still have questions or concerns about your child and insect repellent, contact your pediatrician today!