Meagan Van Assche, NP, a pediatric nurse practitioner with Children’s Pediatricians and Associates Foggy Bottom/Capitol Hill, shares recommendations for how you and your child can prevent getting bit by mosquitos and other itchy bugs this season in the Rise and Shine newsletter. She writes that it’s backyard barbecue season, but that doesn’t mean you have to be the feast! Here are some ways to safely avoid bug bites:
- Avoid outdoor activities during dusk and dawn when mosquitos are most active
- Avoid playing in or around standing puddles of water or flowerbeds
- Wear thin, long-sleeved shirts and long pants to minimize skin exposure
What about bug spray?
Yes, bug spray is okay to use. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends insect repellents that contain the active ingredient DEET (N, N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide). Pregnant women and children older than 2 months old should use sprays with the lowest available concentration of DEET, but no more than 30 percent. If you plan to be outside for only a few hours, a lower concentration of DEET is recommended. If you plan on being outside for a full day, higher concentrations are recommended, but no more than 30 percent. Once inside for the day, wash bug spray off of your child’s skin. Newborns and infants younger than 2 months old should be dressed in long clothing and covered with lightweight blankets or mosquito netting. Always use insect repellent as directed.
Picaridin 20 percent is an alternative ingredient to DEET to look for in insect repellants. These repellents work, but they do not last as long. Do not use products with oil of lemon eucalyptus on children under 3 years old. Other products like electronic devices, wristbands, garlic or vitamin B1 have not been found to work to ward off insects. So you can feed your kids garlic bread until the cows come home, but it won’t keep them from getting covered in mosquito bites!