Tips to avoid Lyme disease and West Nile virus
What's bugging you now that spring is here? Probably the same thing that's bugging your child -– mosquitoes, ticks and other flying, crawling, or creeping creatures of the great outdoors. Not only are these bugs' bites and stings painful and itchy, the potential health risk of insect-borne diseases -- such as Lyme disease and West Nile virus -- makes avoiding these creatures crucial to your child's health.
Insect repellents can be an effective way of keeping bugs off your child, if you're using them properly and carefully. Most experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, agree that products containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide or N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide) are the most effective mosquito and tick repellents available. However, bug sprays aren’t like sunscreens, which are applied -– and re-applied -– liberally and often. Here’s how to safely choose and apply DEET-containing insect repellents:
- Choose a product that contains no more than a 10 percent concentration of DEET.
- Don't use insect repellents on children younger than 2 months old. You may want to check with your child's pediatrician to get his opinion on using it on a baby under 6 months.
- Apply it only once a day. Repeated applications may increase the potential toxic effects of DEET. Overuse in children can lead to difficulty walking and maintaining balance.
- Spray it on your child's clothes and exposed skin only. Avoid applying it near a young child's mouth, eyes or hands.
- Don't use products containing DEET in combination with sunscreen. If you're using insect repellent, have your child cover up to protect himself from the sun.
- Always wash the repellent off your child's skin when she returns indoors.