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How To Choose The Right Bug Spray

Summer ushers in family days at the pool or ocean, picnics in the park, and ballgames. Unfortunately, summer also brings out the creepy crawlies, those biting bugs like mosquitoes, ticks and chiggers, as well as those relentless flies that bite. Most parents will agree that if there is an ant hill or a stagnant puddle full of mosquitoes, their child will find it.  Ah, the glorious days of summer!

The trick is to be prepared for these outings, and choosing the right bug spray for kids is a start.

Deciding On The Right Ingredients

bug spray on childBesides bug sprays to keep insects away from children, there are aerosols, plus creams, wipes, and stick forms. Regardless of the form you choose, the ingredients in the repellent are most important. Some are made of natural or organic ingredients and others come from chemicals.

As parents you want to keep your children safe and find something that will work.

Although DEET has gotten some bad press in the past, it is safe for children as young as two months old according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Parents should note that the percentage of DEET is based on how long it lasts. The recommended amount is 30% or less for children.

Those parents who would prefer products without that particular chemical, look for the ingredient Picaridin which is also safe for babies as young as two months. Somewhat new to the U.S. market, Picaridin has been available in Europe for over ten years and is a reliable alternative.

A third choice is a bug repellent containing completely natural ingredients like lemongrass, citronella, or peppermint. Just be sure to re-apply much more frequently than the other two types. This choice, decidedly, does NOT work as well as the others.

Proper Application Is Important

Just as with any OTC medication or prescription, read the instructions before applying on your children.

  • Only apply bug repellent to exposed skin. Avoid eyes, hands, and be careful with the face. Avoid areas with skin irritations. Many parents find repellent wet wipes useful for these sensitive areas.
  • Never use a spray or aerosol on the face or near food. Wash your hands after applying to your children.
  • Never allow children to apply the repellent themselves.
  • Spray the outside of your child’s clothing and take them off as soon as you return home. Don’t allow children to wear those clothes again until they are washed. Wash any skin areas immediately with soap and water.
  • Only use spray repellents in open areas or outside.

When Repellents Don’t Help

Parents should be aware that repellents do not prevent bee or wasp stings. Be mindful to teach your children how to handle a “close encounter” with these flying insects.  Best advice is – if you leave them alone, they will most likely do the same and leave you alone.

If you notice a reaction after using a bug spray or other repellent, contact your physician at Davidson Family Medicine.