What mom's need to know about bug bites and insect repellents
1. How do I put on sunblock and insect repellent? Which order and how? Always remember, sunscreen first, applied liberally and often, let it dry and then apply insect repellent once or sparingly if more than once.
2. Why do I care about putting on insect repellent on my child? Bites are usually harmless but in some cases they can spread dangerous disease like Lyme disease, Zika virus, West Nile virus, etc. So keep exposed skin covered as much as possible, no loose clothing.
3. Is insect repellent safe in my newborn? DEET is a liquid insect repellent that is primarily used to ward off mosquitoes and ticks and usually sold in spray form. It blocks a mosquito's sense of smell. DEET is not recommended for infants less than 2 months old.
4. Is DEET safe in children? DEET has been proven safe in kids, but be cautious with its use. If a child is outside for only an hour or 2, use lower concentrations of DEET (ie OFF! family care insect repellent has 7% DEET). If the child is outside for much longer than that consider higher concentrations of DEET since that lasts longer (ie Repel Insect Repellent has 40% DEET). These products should be applied ONLY once per day. Consider pre-treating outer layers of clothing with insect repellent and let the clothing dry for 2 hours before wearing them. Always apply to exposed skin but not the face and hands to avoid ingestion, and spray while in an open area so no one breathes it in.
5. What do I do if I used too much insect repellent and my child gets symptoms from it? Harmful side effects are rare but include a rash, redness, swelling and irritation, stomach upset/ vomiting if swallowed and very rarely seizures. See a medical professional immediately with any side effect.
6. What do I do once my child returns from the outdoors? When a child returns from the outdoors, have them shower with soap and water and wash all clothing before it is worn again.
7. I absolutely will not use a product with DEET on my child, what do I do? Consider insect repellents with picaridin (2 month olds and older) or oil of lemon eucalyptus (3 year olds and older).
8. Which are the best mosquito repellents for my family? OFF Deep Woods Insect Repellent V- the best DEET based repellent, Repel Dry Family Insect Repellent- the best DEET based repellent for children, Sawyer Premium Insect Repellent with 20% Picaridin or Cutter Advanced Insect Repellent Spray- the best non-DEET repellent for sensitive skin, Cutter Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent or Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent- the best natural non-DEET repellent.
9. What else could I do to ward off mosquitoes? Insect shield clothing is available and treated with permethrin which is invisible, odorless and lasts 70 washings. There are several companies but REI has nice choices. This is not safe for infants.
10. Are there any organic insect repellents? Clove, eucalyptus, lemon eucalyptus, chamomile, lemongrass, citronella and lavender oil are natural repellents. You can also make your own repellent by mixing 50 drops of any essential oil with 2 oz of distilled water, one ounce of vodka into a 4 oz spray bottle. Shake and apply to the skin. Consider using detergent water in a dish near an open window to prevent mosquitoes from coming into the home. Eat basil, plant basil, tansies, thyme or mint and mosquitoes will disappear.