Tag Archive: how to protect children from bug bites

How to Safely Use Insect Repellent for Children

April 26, 2017 10:09 am

How to Safely Use Insect Repellant for ChildrenWe’re heading full steam into summer, and while that means spending more time with your children and potentially enjoying a family vacation or two, it also means that insects will be making their way back into our lives. Insects are a valuable part of our ecosystem…that is, when we can keep them from biting or stinging our families. The tips below from our licensed and experienced pediatricians at Children’s Wellness Center (CWC) can help you protect your children from both insects and the potential side effects of insect repellents.

  • Avoid using insect repellent on children under two months of age.
  • Choose insect repellents with one of two active ingredients: DEET or picaridin. DEET is the most common, and it can be safe for children as long as it is used correctly.
  • Apply the insect repellent for your child, rather than letting him/her apply it on his/her own. When you apply it to his/her face, spray the repellent on your hands and use your hands to carefully apply it, avoiding the mouth and eye areas to prevent ingestion or eye injuries.
  • Do not spray insect repellent on a child’s hands, because children often put their hands in their mouths.
  • Follow all instructions on the bottle of insect repellent, and pay special attention to any instructions for children.
  • Only apply DEET to your child once per day. One application usually lasts between two and five hours.
  • Always bathe your child after coming indoors from using insect repellent, and wash the clothing he/she was wearing (including any jackets) before he/she wears them again.
  • On top of using an insect repellent, reduce your chances of an insect bite or sting with the following tips:
    • Avoid areas that appear to have many insects.
    • Wear clothing that covers as much skin as possible but is not brightly colored, as bright colors can attract insects.
    • Do not wear perfume or scented lotions.
    • Wear shoes at all times.
    • Keep your yard free of standing water, because this is where mosquitos breed.
  • If you are going to an area with many ticks, dress your child in long pants and consider using permethrin (a repellent specifically for ticks). Only apply permethrin to clothing, tents, sleeping bags, etc., and never apply it to skin.
  • Do not rely on alternative insect repellent methods, like wearing wristbands, eating garlic or vitamin B1, using ultrasonic insect repellent devices, or installing bug zappers.
  • Keep an eye on your child for signs of an allergic reaction or rash when they use insect repellent. If they do have a reaction, wash off the repellent immediately, avoid using it in the future, and schedule a visit with our pediatricians at Children’s Wellness Center.
  • Repellents using DEET will state how much DEET they include, so look for products with no more than 30% DEET.
  • Spray repellents outdoors so your child doesn’t breathe them in.
  • Consider using a mosquito net for your baby’s stroller or carrier, particularly for infants less than two months old, since they are not yet old enough to safely be exposed to insect repellent. This should be used not only when you’re going to an insect-heavy area, but any time you take your baby on a walk as well.
  • If you are in an area where ticks are present, examine your child’s skin carefully for ticks when you go indoors. Don’t forget to check creases and hidden areas, like behind the knees, between the toes, etc.
  • If you choose to use an insect repellent with oil of lemon eucalyptus, be sure to only use it on children who are over three years of age.
  • Protecting your child from the sun and insects at the same time is wise, but use a sunscreen first, then apply the insect repellent. Do not use a product that combines sunscreen and insect repellent. Not only does this tend to lower the sun protection of the product, but because sunscreens need to be reapplied around every 90 minutes, it can lead to overexposing your child to DEET as well.
  • Check the list of ingredients on your insect repellent to make sure all the ingredients are registered with the US Environmental Protection Agency as safe to use on skin and clothing.
  • If you use an insect repellent that uses picaridin, look for concentrations of 5-10% when using the product on children.

One of the key rules to keeping your child healthy is not to take his/her safety for granted. Many products are perfectly safe for adults but are too much for a child’s unique anatomy and chemistry, and in many cases, all it takes is asking the right questions to keep your child healthy and happy. There’s no need to keep your child indoors all summer—as long as you take the right precautions, the entire family can enjoy the great outdoors while also being safe from insect bites and repellent-related issues. To learn more about how to keep your child healthy through the spring and the upcoming summer, schedule an appointment at Children’s Wellness Center. Plus, for more helpful child safety tips and health tips, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.