Much of the country has been experiencing heavy bouts of rain this summer.
During this time of year, that rain and resulting stagnant water often lead to
a surge in the number of mosquitoes. In addition, the other typical insects
that we associate with summer fun (ticks, bees, wasps, etc.) are around, too.
Besides leaving their irritating bites and stings, some of these insects can transmit
potentially dangerous illnesses to people. Here are some tips from the American
Academy of Pediatrics to help keep these pesky bugs away.
Don’t use scented soaps,
perfumes, or hair sprays on your child. Many bugs are attracted to the scents.
Avoid areas where
insects nest or congregate, such as stagnant pools of water, uncovered
foods, and gardens where flowers are in bloom.
Avoid dressing your
child in clothing with bright colors or flowery prints.
To remove a visible
stinger from the skin, gently back it out by scraping over it with a
credit card or your fingernail.
Don’t use combination
sunscreen/insect repellent products. Why? Because sunscreen needs to be
reapplied every two hours, but insect repellent should not be reapplied that
The strongest and most effective insect repellents are
those that contain DEET (chemical
name N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide). DEET has the reputation of being a strong,
“no-nonsense” chemical; however, the Environmental Protection Agency has found
no evidence of incidents that would lead the agency to see a need to restrict
the use of DEET.
Therefore, go ahead and use insect repellents
that contain DEET when you are really concerned about preventing insect-related
diseases in yourself and your children. Ticks can transmit Lyme disease, and
mosquitoes can transmit West Nile virus, as well as other viruses.
Some tips when
using products containing DEET
The current AAP and CDC
recommendation for children older than 2 months of age is to use products
that contain 10 percent to 30 percent DEET.
DEET should not be used
on children younger than 2 months of age.
The effectiveness of
products containing 10 percent and 30 percent DEET is similar, but the
duration of their effects varies. Ten percent DEET provides protection for
about 2 hours, while 30 percent DEET protects for about 5 hours. Choose
the lowest concentration that will provide the required length of
The concentration of
DEET varies significantly from product to product, so read the labels of
any products you are considering purchasing. When children return indoors,
they should always shower or bathe to wash off insect repellents.
As an alternative to
DEET, picaridin has become available
in the U.S. in concentrations of 5 percent to 10 percent. Some sprays, such as permethrin, are available that can
be sprayed onto clothing to help deter insects and thus decrease the
amount of insect repellent applied to the skin. These products may be
particularly useful in infants under 2 months of age.