It’s so exciting that spring is finally here after our long Wisconsin winter! Continuing on the summer theme, I’d like to talk about protecting kids from those pesky mosquitoes. Ordinarily, the bites of mosquitoes are just a nuisance. The bite may cause itching or swelling (a lot more swelling in some people than in others — and, yes mosquitoes definitely prefer some of us more than others).
Here are some tips to avoid mosquito bites when outdoors:
- Don’t use scented soaps, perfumes or hair sprays on your child.
- Avoid areas where insects nest or congregate, such as stagnant pools of water, uncovered foods and gardens where flowers are in bloom.
- Avoid times when mosquitoes bite. Generally, the peak biting periods occur just before and after sunset and again just before dawn.
- Wear appropriate clothing. Long-sleeved tops and long pants made of tightly woven materials keep mosquitoes away from the skin. Be sure, too, that your clothing is light colored. Keep trouser legs tucked into boots or socks.
You will also need to use an insect repellant. DEET-containing products are the most effective mosquito repellents available. DEET has been used for over fifty years with a very good safety profile. Other products have not necessarily been as thoroughly studied as DEET, and may not be safer for use on children. The American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Environmental Health feels that products containing DEET up to concentrations of up to 30% are safe for use in children 2 months and above. In choosing the strength of DEET to use, keep in mind that the more DEET a product contains, the longer the repellant can protect against mosquito bites.
Products containing citronella, lavender, mineral oil and soybean oil generally do not last very long. Herbal products containing lemon eucalyptus oil as a repellant are the only ones found to have effectiveness similar to DEET containing products. Those are only recommended in children above the age of 3 years old.
When using DEET containing repellants in children, keep in mind the following safety tips:
- Select the lowest concentration effective for the amount of time spent outdoors. It is generally agreed that DEET should not be applied more than once a day.
- Apply the product to your own hands and then rub them on your child. Avoid children’s eyes and mouth.
- Do not apply repellent to children’s hands. (which often end up in their mouth)
- To make sure your child’s skin will not react to the repellent, apply the product to a small area of skin, arm or leg before general use.
- Use just enough repellent to cover exposed skin and/or clothing. Do not use under clothing.
- After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water. Wash treated clothing before wearing again.
- Do not apply over cuts, wounds or irritated skin.
- Do not spray DEET-containing products in enclosed areas. DEET products will NOT repel stinging insects such as wasps and bees.
Enjoy your time outdoors,