Our office is open to care for our patients throughout this COVID pandemic for well and sick visits. We are also available to care for you via the phone, the patient portal, and telemedicine. Please contact us to schedule an appointment. Walk-ins will not be accepted at this time. Thank you for your patience.

Choosing an Insect Repellent for your Child

July 9, 2019 11:03 am Published by

Summer ushers in family days at the pool or ocean, picnics in the park, and ballgames. Unfortunately, summer also brings out the creepy crawlies, those biting bugs like mosquitoes, ticks and chiggers, as well as those relentless flies that bite. Most parents will agree that if there is an ant hill or a stagnant puddle full of mosquitoes, their child will find it.  Ah, the glorious days of summer!

The trick is to be prepared for these outings, and choosing the right bug spray for kids is a start.

Choosing an Insect Repellent for your Child

Bug spray icons to represent insect repellent safety

There are many insect repellents on today’s market that claim to be the best at protecting your child against ticks, mosquito, and other insect bites. These products can be purchased in many different forms including liquids, creams, sticks, aerosols, and sprays. Some products are made with chemicals while others are made with natural ingredients. When using these products it’s important to always use them safely and correctly.

Available Insect Repellents

  • DEET
  • Picaridin
  • Repellents made from natural ingredients like essential oils. Essential oils are found in plants such as eucalyptus, soybean, cedar, and citronella.
  • Chemical repellents with permethrin 

How well do they work?

  • DEET is one of the best chemical repellents in the defense against biting insects.
  • Repellents made from eucalyptus, 2%soybean oil, and oil of lemon, have a duration of action that is comparable to 10% of DEET.
  • Picaridin is recommended by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) as a repellent that may work as well as DEET.
  • Chemical repellents with permethrin will kill ticks on contact. 

    Citronella plant and extractIllustration of mosquitoes getting sprayed by insect repellentChild smiling and holding out her arm, being sprayed with bug spray by her mom

How long do they last?

  • DEET will protect your child for about 2 to 5 hours depending on how concentrated the DEET product is.
  • Picaridin will last around 3 to 8 hours depending on the concentration of the picaridin product you are using.
  • Natural plant-based repellents usually last 2 hours.
  • Chemical repellents with permethrin will last even after several washes, when applied to your clothing.  

What is DEET?

DEET is an insect repellent that is used in products to prevent bites from insects such as mosquitoes, biting flies, fleas and small flying insects.  DEET ranges from less than 10% to 30% or more. The AAP recommends that any repellent products used on children should contain no more than 30% DEET. Keep in mind DEET greater than 30% does NOT offer any extra protection. 

Insect repellents are NOT recommended for use on children 2 months or younger.

When using any of these products special precautions should be taken

Family walking through woods

  • DEET: Use caution when applying DEET to your child.
  • Picaridin: These products are considered safe when used as recommended. However, if used long-term, there are no follow-up studies available to show the risks involved. More studies need to be done to show the effectiveness these products have against protecting against ticks and how well they repel them.
  • Natural repellents: Having an allergic reaction to repellents made with essential oils is rare but can occur.
  • Chemical repellents made with permethrin should be applied to clothing ONLY! NEVER apply these products directly to the skin. When enjoying outdoor activities these products may be applied to your tent, sleeping bags, and other outdoor equipment. 

Products that are NOT effective

  • Taking Garlic or Vitamin B1 by mouth
  • Devices that give off ultrasonic sound waves designed to keep insects away
  • Chemically soaked wristband repellents
  • Backyard bug zappers (these may attract insects to your backyard). 

Please visit HealthyChildren.org for more information on using repellents safely.

As always, if you have any further questions, contact our office or request an appointment online

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This post was written by Delaware Pediatrics

COVID-19 Update

During this difficult time, Delaware Pediatrics wants to assure you that we will be available to you for well and sick visit appointments.

It is especially important to maintain your well visit appointments that include immunizations. These are Birth through 2 year visits, 4 year visit, 11 year visit, and 16 year visit, but all well visit appointments are encouraged.

In order to ensure maximum protection to our patients the morning has been reserved for well appointments only. All patients will be asked to check in at the front door and then return to their cars until called directly into their exam room. We have designated exam rooms that will only be used for well visits during the morning. Patients that are scheduled for well visits but arrive with symptoms will be screened for fever prior to being allowed to enter the office. Those well visit appointments that arrive with symptoms will then be placed directly into rooms that have been designated to serve only those particular patients.

This is all being done out of an abundance of caution to insure patient safety and yet maintain wellness. All of our exam rooms will be sanitized before our afternoon session. The afternoon session will start at 2:00 pm. All scheduled sick visits will be first screened on the phone for potential Coronavirus risk factors. 

Patients that screen positive for Coronavirus risk factor cannot be given an office appointment since we have no test kits to confirm or rule out presence of Coronavirus. We will contact the Department of Health for those patients to coordinate appropriate testing and management. 

We will make every effort to perform telehealth visits whenever possible but will continue to see children in our office that need to be seen.

We will not be able to accept walk-ins.

Thanks for your help!!