Buzz Off! – Using Bug Repellant Safely around Children


Camping, hiking, picnicking, and playing in the Great Outdoors are favorite summer pastimes for many families. Unfortunately, the more time you spend outdoors, the more exposure your little ones have to harmful elements, including some of nature’s amazing creatures – bugs. While certain insects do wonders for the environment, their impact on people is not always as wondrous. While some children react to bug bites with mild irritation and itching, other children can experience severe allergic reactions to the toxins in insect venom.

Using aerosol sprays, creams, or liquid repellants will protect you and your children from insects that bite, but not bugs and insects that sting. While not all bug bites and stings are preventable, there are some preventative measures you can take to keep your kids safer outdoors this summer.

The Details on DEET

Over the years, new studies have been done suggesting that the DEET concentration for insect repellants used on children should not be higher than 30%. Concentrations higher than 30% do not have a higher effectiveness for repelling bugs. Did you know the only real difference between a DEET concentration of 10% and 30% is the length of time the repellant will work?

Tips on Using Insect Repellants

  1. It is recommended that you DO NOT use bug repellant on children under 2 months old. To keep young kids protected, keep much of their skin covered and don’t stay too long in areas highly populated with flying biting insects. Using mosquito netting over baby carriers may be beneficial if you are going to be near standing water, flowerbeds and gardens, or other areas where insects are prevalent.

  2. Do not apply insect repellants on the inside of your children’s clothing. Only spray the outside of their clothes and their exposed skin. Permethrin, an insect repellant used to kill ticks, should never be used directly on the skin.

  3. Never spray repellant in a confined area or directly onto the face. Breathing in these chemicals can be dangerous to children and adults and damage the respiratory system.

  4. Do not use insect repellants on areas of the skin that have cuts or sores. Cover these areas with a bandage before applying repellant.

  5. Do not combine DEET repellants with sunscreen products, as this can lead to overexposure of harmful chemicals and reduce the protective effect of the sunscreen.

If you believe you or your children are having an allergic reaction to insect repellants, wash the affected areas with soap and water, then contact an AllKids Gilbert or Mesa Pediatric Urgent Care location immediately to receive treatment. If your child has been bitten or stung by an insect and has an allergic reaction to the venom, call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 or 911 if the situation is an emergency.

© 2006-2020 by AllKids Urgent Care.

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