The beauty of the outdoors and opportunities to share it with our children are highlights of the summer months. Unfortunately, with the beauty comes the buggy. When the sweet sounds of nature are interrupted by the buzz of mosquitoes our adventures can become torture. So what do we need to know to keep our families safe from nagging insects and the threat of illness that they carry?
Recommended active ingredients:
New bug spray - who DEET? Ok dad jokes aside, DEET isn’t new but the attitude about it sure is old. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), when used according to label instructions DEET is the best defender against mosquitoes and ticks and the illnesses they spread and it carries a minimal risk. Using a bug spray with a concentration of 10-30% DEET is ideal, along with choosing a concentration that reflects the length of the trip and level of risk for exposure to illness. Using a bug spray with 100% concentration of DEET isn’t recommended for children and doesn’t improve the quality of effectiveness. To limit exposure to DEET and other bug spray ingredients it’s always best to use what you need and avoid over application - 10% concentration offers about 2 hours of coverage and 30% about 5 hours of coverage.
Other effective bug repellent ingredients are Picaridin (5-10% concentrations) and essential oils like Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. No bug sprays are recommended for children under the age of 2 months and essential oils also aren’t recommended for those 3 years and younger. The risk of essential oil bug sprays isn’t confirmed because of a lack of studies done on its safety. Essential oil bug repellents are also less effective. Picaridin is considered safe, as DEET is.
Parents should control the application of bug sprays to children between 2 months and about 10 years of age. This will help avoid accidental consumption or exposure to eyes, mouth and ears. Do not use bug spray on children younger than 2 months.
Tips for keeping your kids safe and bite-free:
At this time there are no baby-safe bug repellents available. For children younger than 2 months the best policy will always be using clothing and mosquito netting to limit their exposure to bugs. If you’re using a stroller you can use a good mesh netting to limit exposure. For backpack carriers, dress your infant in long, loose pants and tuck the ends into socks and put netting over the top to keep arms and faces safe from bites. Don’t forget to do a tick check after the hike to eliminate any unwanted guests!
Once you’ve finished protecting your kids from bites DURING the trip there are some good habits to adopt after:
Avoid bites and remove ticks within 24-48 hours to help keep your children safe from exposure to bug-borne illnesses like West Nile, Zika virus, Chikungunya virus, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and others. Insects may be an important part of the ecosystem, but they don’t have to ruin our adventures. Be prepared and make the most of summer. Remember - if you have any concerns, Brave Care is here for you!