What insect repellents are best for kids?

Parents are naturally concerned about summer bug bites. Not only are itchy, red insect bites enough to take the fun out of any picnic or beach trip, there is real concern about insect-borne diseases, like Rocky Mountain spotted fever and West Nile virus.On the other hand, many parents have heard that N,N-Diethyl-Meta-Toluamide (DEET), one of the best insect repellents, can be harmful for young children. DEET-free repellents may be hard to find in Cumberland County and sometimes don't work as well.

What's a mom or dad to do? Here are some points to remember:

  • Some DEET-free repellents include products like Avon's Skin-So-Soft, which is used by the United States Army for its insect repellent purposes for troops in jungle training. Other options include:

    • Bug-Away

    • Off-Botanicals

    • California Baby

    • nat ural essential oils, like citronella, patchouli, clove, and makaen, which provide about 2 hours of repellency

  • DEET-containing repellents may be used on children down to age 2 months with the following precautions:

  • Apply DEET sparingly on exposed skin; do not use under clothing.

  • Do not use DEET on the hands of young children; avoid applying to areas around the eyes and mouth.

  • Do not use DEET over cuts, wounds or irritated skin.

  • Wash treated skin with soap and water after returning indoors; wash treated clothing.

  • Avoid spraying in enclosed areas; do not use DEET near food.

  • DEET should not be applied more than once a day.

  • Pick a repellent with a relatively low concentration of DEET (under 30%). Some products contain as low as 6% DEET. Other products (typically with names like "Outdoorsman" or "Woodsman") have concentrations of over 30% DEET.