Friday, June 2, 2017

From the desk of Josie Dawe, CPNP  
Josie Dawe, CPNP

It's summer time, the time when children commonly experience insect bites. Insects that bite include mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, chiggers, and flies. While most insect bites are harmless, some can be dangerous. One way to protect your child is through the proper use of insect repellents.

Insect repellents come in many forms including sprays, liquids, creams and sticks and can be made of both chemical and natural ingredients. DEET containing products generally provide best defense, but should be used cautiously in children. The amount of DEET in products can range so be sure to read of label. In general products containing 10% DEET repel insects for 2 hours, and those containing 30% DEET repel insects for 5 hours. Studies show products with greater than 30% DEET show no additional protection and should not be used in children.

Here are some Do's and Don'ts for safe use of insect repellent.

  • Only apply insect repellents on the outside of clothes and to exposed skin.
  • Wash skin with soap and water to remove any remaining repellent once returning to indoors.
  • Use only enough repellent to cover clothing and exposed skin…. using more does not make the repellent more effective.
  • Use caution when applying repellent to the face, especially around the eyes, mouth and ears.
  • Parents should apply repellents, as children may inadvertently ingest it through hand-to-mouth activity.
  • Never apply insect repellent to children younger than 2 months of age.
  • Never apply insect repellent to cuts, wounds or irritated skin.
  • Do not use products that combine DEET with sunscreen. The DEET may make the sun protection factor (SPF) less effective and can overexpose your child to DEET since sunscreen needs to be reapplied often.
Additional ways to protect your child from insect bites include dressing them in lightweight long pants and sleeves with closed toed shoes and socks; avoiding brightly colored clothing; keeping door and window screens  in good repair; and avoiding scented soaps, perfumes, and hair sprays.

If your child is playing outdoors in an area where ticks are present be sure to check your child's skin for ticks. The most effective repellent for ticks is permethrin, which should only be applied to your child's clothing. Remember permethrin should never be applied to children's skin.

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