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They fly, crawl and can ruin a perfect summer day. Bugs are creeping everywhere this time of year and there is only one way to keep them at bay...insect repellent. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using bug sprays in children who are older than 2 months of age for preventing insect bites during outdoor activities. The most commonly used insect repellent ingredient is DEET, a chemical that has been studied for over 50 years. Most of the over the counter bug sprays contain DEET in varying concentrations ranging from 5 - 30%. The higher the concentration of DEET the greater the protection and length of effectiveness. I recommend starting with the lowest concentration of DEET which usually provides for 1-2 hours of protection and use higher concentrations as needed for longer protection. Some children seem to be prone to bug bites and they may need a higher concentration of DEET to provide adequate protection. Another insect repellent approved for use in the U.S. is picardin. Picardin has been found to provide similar protection in both duration and effect as DEET. The advantage to picardin containing products is that they do not feel as greasy on the skin and are less likely to cause skin irritation. Picardin containing products also come in different strengths. There are a few natural products you can use like Oil of Eucalyptus. The CDC has found this to be comparable in effectiveness for preventing mosquito bites. Oil of eucalyptus may also work well against ticks. But, eucalyptus oil may be poisonous if ingested and should never be used in children under the age of 3 years. The best way to apply any insect repellent to a child is to spray your own hands and then apply to your child's neck, arms, trunk and legs. Never apply to areas around the nose and mouth. Sue on Camera: Lastly, bug sprays should not be reapplied like you would sunscreen. Morning and evening is sufficient. It is a good idea to wash off the repellents with soap and water at the end of the day. I'm Dr. Sue with TKD, helping parents take charge.
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