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Prevention of Insect Bites

Summer is a time for more outdoor activities for most children. However, along with the fun come the bites of mosquitoes and other insects, some of which can carry diseases. The best way to prevent these insect borne infections is to use insect repellents in children ages 2 months and older.

DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) is the most widely available repellent. It has been used in the United States for 50 years and appears to be safe in concentrations up to 30% when applied according to label directions. The concentration should be chosen based on how long the child will be outdoors. DEET 10% protects one to two hours; DEET 30% protects about five hours.

Other insect repellents which seem to be safe and effective are picaridin (KBR 3023) and oil of lemon eucalyptus (p-menthane 3,8-diol(PMD)).

All insect repellents should be applied sparingly to exposed skin only, not under clothing. Parents should apply repellent to their own hands and then rub them on the child avoiding the child’s eyes, mouth, and hands. Insect repellent should not be applied to cuts, wounds, or irritated skin. Treated skin should be washed with soap and water after returning indoors. Do not use products containing both sunscreen and insect repellent because sunscreen should be reapplied frequently and insect repellent should be applied as infrequently as possible. However, parents should apply sunscreen first then apply insect repellent over the sunscreen when their child heads out for fun in the sun.

For more information on insect repellents look at the CDC website, the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) website, or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website.

Written by Dr. Donna Fearing
On behalf of PAMPA

© 2011 Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
PAMPA is a pediatric medical practice in north Atlanta, Georgia consisting of twelve pediatricians, five nurses,
and four locations in Roswell, Woodstock, Atlanta, and Marietta. area.
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