Prevent insect bites in childrenOn July 4, 2019 by Lavina Kang
In this post you will find useful information on what measures you can take to avoid insect bites and the particularities to apply to children.
Common sense and physical measurements
Not everything has to be a mosquito repellent as we will see later. There are other simple measures to apply that will greatly reduce the likelihood of a bite.
First of all we must apply common sense. Most mosquitoes live in temperate climates near places with water and often go out in search of a “victim” in the late afternoon. Therefore, we should avoid walks near rivers and swamps late in the day.
In any case, in the countryside there are many more insects than in the city so when our children go on a hike it is better to dress them in long-sleeved clothing so that they have fewer areas exposed to bites. Since insects clearly identify bright and strong colours (like those of flowers), we will avoid as much as possible very brightly coloured clothes.
Similarly, many insects are attracted by the perfumes of soaps and shampoos so we must use in these cases that are less perfumed.
At night, the use of mosquito nets on the windows and doors and also nets on the beds are of great help. In the case of children we can use nets to cover the trolleys during the whole day.
With these simple actions you will avoid being the focus of attention of the insects and you will reduce to a great extent the possible bites of your child.
What is an insect repellent?
Repellents are chemicals that are spread on a child’s skin that prevent a sting from occurring. Some of them can be natural products. They come in a variety of forms, from lotions or creams to sprays or sticks with the product. Despite the great variety on the market, all of them must be applied to the skin to be effective.
Because wasps and bees sting in self-defence, repellents are not effective against them. They target insects such as mosquitoes, flies, tick fleas, and spiders.
Types of repellents
As we have already said, they will be chemicals that prevent the insect from resting on the skin, thus preventing the sting. We should only use those that have been proven to be effective, avoiding remedies that will not be of any use and could also have side effects.
- DEET (N, N-meta-toluamide): is the most effective insect repellent known. In pharmacies you can find them in different presentations (lotion, spray, cream). The amount of DEET contained in each commercial product can vary from less than 10% to 45%. The more DEET the product has, the longer the protection it provides. However, concentrations above 30% do not offer any advantage. As a guideline, a product containing 10% DEET will protect for about 2 hours while a 25% DEET product may protect for almost 5 hours. The use of products with concentrations above 30% is not recommended for children. In general, it should be avoided under the age of two.
- IR3535: also frequently used in children, in this case it can be used above the age of one in concentrations of 10%.
- Picardine: is an insect repellent that has proven to be effective and its use is widespread worldwide. However, its protection is not as long-lasting as DEET.
- Oils of vegetable origin such as citronella, cedar, eucalyptus, piertrin or citridiol: although its effectiveness has been proven, they are less scientifically supported than DEET and the problem is that its application has to be repeated every less time.
- Permethrin: effective against tick bites. It is used impregnated in the clothes we are going to use but it should not be applied on the skin.
What precautions should I take with children?
In general, all repellents can be used on children.
DEET is not recommended for children under 2 months of age. In children under 2 years of age, the use of mosquito nets is preferred (although repellents can be used).
There is also no disadvantage in using them during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
How do I use repellent on my child?
- Repellents should be applied only to exposed skin, never under clothing.
- Use the right amount of product, just enough to cover the skin. More quantity does not mean more protection.
- They should not be applied to wounds or skin injuries.
- Avoid using repellent sprays on the face. It is preferable to apply it on the hand and then spread it out.
- It can be used on clothing but it must be washed before use.
- Once the child has finished the outdoor activity, it is convenient to wash him/her with soap and water.
- Just as it can be used on clothing, it can be used on baby carriages or car seats.
- Do not use aerosol repellents indoors to avoid inhaling them.
If you are using a sunscreen simultaneously, first apply the sunscreen and then the repellent. Products that combine sunscreen and repellent are not recommended.