With mosquito-borne illnesses such as Zika virus infection on the rise worldwide, mosquito bite prevention is more important than ever. These tips will help keep children safe from insects that bite.
Limit exposure to mosquitoes
Stay indoors when mosquitoes are most active. This is typically at dusk in the US. Repair damaged screens so mosquitoes can’t come in. Avoid leaving doors or windows open if screens are absent. Mosquitoes lay eggs in standing water, so eliminate water where it might collect.
Wear protective clothing
Long sleeves, pants, socks, and closed-toed shoes can limit direct access to the skin. Make sure to cover baby’s arms, legs, and feet. Clothing and other fabrics may be treated with permethrin to repel mosquitoes.
Use mosquito netting
For camping or sleeping outdoors, mosquito netting may be draped over the sleeping area. For babies, mosquito netting may be draped over the stroller or carrier.
Choosing an insect repellant
Insect spray may be used in children and babies older than 2 months. Look for active ingredients of DEET, Icaridin (picaridin), or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Wristbands and other wearable items are not effective.
DEET is the best-studied insect repellant. Products containing no more than 30% DEET should be used on children, and combination sunscreen products should be avoided. Icaridin (picaridin) and oil of lemon eucalyptus are presumed to be safe, but long-term studies are not available. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should be avoided under age 3 years.
Tips for applying insect repellant on your child
Avoid spraying insect repellant on the face, eyes, hands, or any open cuts. Spray insect repellant in your hands and apply to the child’s face. Insect repellant should not be applied under clothing. If applying sunscreen as well, sunscreen should go on first. Make sure to wash all insect repellant off the skin with soap and water when finished playing outside.
About The Author
Dr. Whitney has practiced for over nine years as a general pediatrician, and her interests include helping children develop healthy habits and toddler feeding issues. Connect with Dr. Whitney.