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6/1/22 blog post

top tips on avoiding bug bites

Warmer weather is here – bring on the fun, sun and bugs. Yes, that says bugs. Mosquitoes, ticks, flies and all things that crawl enjoy the warmer weather just like us. And you probably know that bites from these guys can make us miserable, especially our kiddos. Some of these bugs carry diseases such as West Nile Virus or Lyme disease which can be very dangerous. One way to prevent these bites is by using insect repellents. But make sure that you are using insect repellent carefully and correctly.

Most insect repellents contain DEET, which is an oily liquid with a mild odor that bugs don’t like. Repellents can contain different amounts of DEET depending on the brand. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), insect repellents used on children shouldn’t contain more than 30% DEET. Insect repellent should not be used on children younger than 2-months-old. Read and follow the directions on the product to ensure you are using it safely and correctly.

When applying insect repellent to children, make sure that you:

  1. Help young children apply and supervise older children.
  2. Only apply it to clothing or exposed skin. 
  3. Never apply the repellent directly to your child’s face. Spray it on your hands first, then rub it on your child’s face, avoiding the eyes and mouth.
  4. Spray repellent outside to avoid inhaling the chemicals.
  5. Use just enough to cover the exposed skin – spraying a lot does not make the repellent more effective.
  6. Once you are back indoors, have your child shower to remove the repellent from the skin and wash all clothing before wearing again.
  7. Avoid cuts, wounds and irritated skin when applying insect repellent.
  8. Don’t use insect repellents that contain sunscreen. The DEET can cause your SPF to be less effective.

We all know that there isn’t a sure fire way to avoid bug bites, but by following these tips you can reduce the number of bites you child gets:

  • Avoid areas that you know attract bugs – garbage cans, stagnant water such as swamps, rivers and lakes, and flowerbeds.
  • Wear long pants and lightweight, long sleeve shirts when possible. A hat can also help keep bugs away from the face.
  • Avoid wearing bright colors or flowery prints because they can attract insects.
  • Don’t use scented perfumes or hairsprays because they may attract insects.
  • Always check your child’s skin after outdoor play for ticks.

Lisa Ziemnik, MD, FAAP

program director urgent care
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