Do not allow children to handle bug repellent without supervision.
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By Sue Hubbard, M.D.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have issued recommendations for the application of insect repellents in children. These include the following:
1. Do not apply bug spray to children under 2 months of age
2. Use up to 30 percent DEET on children, depending on the duration of outdoor activities. Avoid the use of higher concentrations on children.
Combination products containing DEET and sunscreen are not recommended, as sunscreen should be reapplied frequently (every two hours). In contrast, bug repellents should be applied as infrequently as possible. It is also thought that DEET may decrease the effectiveness of sunscreen.
3. Apply insect repellent only to exposed areas of skin and/or clothing. Do not use repellents under a child’s clothing. Certain repellents may damage synthetics, leather or plastics.
4. Do not apply insect repellent to eyes or mouth, and apply sparingly around the ears. Do not spray directly on the face, spray on your hands first and then apply to the child’s face
5. Do not apply bug spray over cuts, eczema or breaks in the skin.
6. Have a parent or caregiver apply the bug spray, as a child may inadvertently ingest the spray.
7. Do not use spray in enclosed areas or near food. Avoid breathing the repellent spray.
8. Wash repellents off with soap and water at the end of the day. This is especially important when repellents are used repeatedly in a day or on consecutive days. Also wash treated clothing before wearing again.
There are other ways to beat the bugs too.
1. Try to avoid go outside when the bugs are most active, dawn and dusk.
2. When your child does go out, cover as much of the skin as you possibly can. Use lightweight, long sleeved clothing and pants.
3. Do not dress your child in bright colors or flowery clothing.
4. For young children, use mosquito netting over their strollers.
5. Eliminating standing water in yards and areas around the house and yard will help eliminate mosquito breeding.
6. Fans do seem to help as mosquitoes have trouble maneuvering in the wind, so buying a fan to use around the picnic table may be useful.
One note: The use of citronella candles or bug zappers has not been shown to help. However, there are many ways to try and avoid the dreaded insect bites. So gather information, arm yourself with your favorite repellents and enjoy the outdoors!
Dr. Sue Hubbard is an award-winning pediatrician, medical editor and media host. “The Kid’s Doctor” TV feature can be seen on more than 90 stations across the U.S. Submit questions at http://www.kidsdr.com. The Kid’s Doctor e-book, “Tattoos to Texting: Parenting Today’s Teen,” is now available from Amazon and other e-book vendors.
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Printed in the July 24, 2016 - August 6, 2016 edition.