Insect repellents with deet come in varying strengths — some contain up to 30-percent deet. A higher concentration of deet doesn’t mean a product is stronger, only that it lasts longer.
Although deet is safe for use on children, many parents prefer to use bug repellents that are deet-free. Natural repellents are made with plant oils such as citronella, lemongrass, peppermint, and cedarwood. They generally need to be reapplied more often than products containing deet.
Using bug repellent is one way to prevent itchy bug bites, but there are several other ways to avoid pesky bugs. Have your kids wear loose-fitting, long-sleeve clothing in muted colors. Wear socks and shoes instead of sandals. Stay inside early in the morning and at dusk when bugs are the worst. Don’t use scented lotions that can attract bugs.
Lotions that combine bug repellent and sunscreen might sound like a good idea, but they aren’t. The reason is that sunscreen needs to be reapplied every few hours, but you shouldn’t expose your children to that much bug repellent. Take the time to apply each product separately unless you know you will only be outside for a few hours.
Once you’ve chosen a bug repellent, it’s important that you use it properly. Apply product only to exposed skin. Avoid hands, eyes, cuts, or irritations. You might want to put it on your hands first, then rub it on your child so you don’t use too much. Wash the repellent off when your child is done being outside.
Don’t let bugs stop you from being outside this summer. Here are some things to remember when applying bug repellent: