How often should I be applying bug spray to my child? - East Idaho News
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How often should I be applying bug spray to my child?

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How often should I be applying bug spray to my child?


As parents, we strive to protect our children from all manner of outdoor hazards, including pesky bugs and their itchy, sometimes harmful, bites. Bug spray is a valuable tool, but knowing when and how to use it safely is crucial.

When to Apply Bug Spray:

The AAP advises that parents should consider using insect repellent on children when they are going to be outdoors, particularly in areas where insects are prevalent. This includes activities such as camping, hiking, picnicking, or playing in wooded or grassy areas. Bug spray becomes especially important during peak mosquito and tick seasons, typically spring and summer months, when these pests are most active.

By following these guidelines for sunscreen and bug spray application, parents can help protect their children from the harmful effects of sun exposure and insect bites. Instilling sun and bug safety habits from a young age sets the stage for a lifetime of healthy outdoor enjoyment. So, before your next outdoor adventure, don’t forget the sunscreen and bug spray—your child’s health depends on it!

Recommendations for Bug Spray Use:

  1. Age Considerations: Avoiding the use of insect repellent on infants younger than two months old. For infants younger than two months, it’s best to protect them from insect bites by using physical barriers such as mosquito netting over strollers or carriers. For babies older than two months, it’s generally safe to use insect repellent, but it’s essential to choose products formulated specifically for infants and follow the instructions carefully.
  2. Choosing the Right Repellent: When selecting insect repellent for children, opt for products containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) at concentrations recommended for children.
  3. Application Frequency: Apply insect repellent to exposed skin and clothing, following the product label’s instructions carefully. Reapply bug spray as needed, especially if your child is sweating or swimming, as water and sweat can diminish the repellent’s effectiveness.
  4. Avoiding Combination Products: Avoid using combination sunscreen-insect repellent products, as sunscreen needs to be reapplied more frequently than insect repellent. Apply sunscreen first, followed by insect repellent, to ensure proper and timely reapplication of each product.
  5. Additional Tips for Bug Bite Prevention:

    • Dress children in long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, and closed-toe shoes when spending time outdoors, especially in wooded or grassy areas where ticks may be prevalent.
    • Use mosquito netting over strollers, playpens, and baby carriers to protect infants from mosquito bites.
    • Avoid scented soaps, lotions, and perfumes, as these may attract insects.
    • Perform regular tick checks on children and pets after spending time outdoors, paying close attention to areas such as the scalp, behind the ears, and under the arms.
    • Teach your child to recognize the signs of insect bites and to notify an adult if they’re experiencing discomfort or itching.
    • Promptly wash off bug spray at the end of the day to prevent skin irritation or reactions.

This column does not establish a provider/patient relationship and is for general informational purposes only. This column is not a substitute for consulting with a physician or other health care provider.