I want to protect my son from mosquito bites, but I’m worried about slathering him with repellent that has DEET. Will that cause health problems down the line?
Insect repellents containing DEET have been tested and approved as safe for kids, but you should take some precautions with them.
Choose a repellent with no more than 10% to 30% concentration of DEET (look for N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide on the label). Use lower concentrations if kids will be outside only for an hour or two. If they're outside longer, consider using a repellent with a higher concentration of DEET. (The higher concentration means that it will last longer.)
Generally, repellent with DEET should not be applied more than once a day, and is not recommended for babies younger than 2 months old.
DEET can be used on exposed skin, as well as clothing, socks, and shoes, but should not be used on the face, under clothing, on cuts or irritated skin, or on the hands of young children.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that repellents containing the ingredients picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus also can protect against mosquitoes:
Whatever repellent you choose, check the list of active ingredients to make sure that one of these effective chemicals is on the list, and follow the directions carefully.
Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: February 2014
|Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The CDC (the national public health institute of the United States) promotes health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability.|
|American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology offers up-to-date information and a find-an-allergist search tool.|
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|American Academy of Family Physicians This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.|
|National Park Service This site contains information on America's national parks and the many ways you can enjoy the great outdoors.|
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|Malaria Malaria is a common infection in hot, tropical areas but can also occur (rarely) in temperate climates. Malaria is a leading cause of death worldwide but if diagnosed early and treated, it can be cured.|
|West Nile Virus You've probably heard about West Nile virus and know that mosquitoes have something to do with it. Learn more about the virus, including how you can protect yourself.|
|West Nile Virus The threat of West Nile virus has made getting a mosquito bite a cause for concern. What is West Nile virus, and what can you do to prevent it?|
|Lyme Disease The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to prevent tick bites. Find out more about this disease and how to keep those ticks away.|
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|Lyme Disease Lyme disease can be treated if it's caught early. So read this to find out what causes it, how it's treated, and how to prevent it.|
|What's My Lyme Disease Risk? Is the thought of Lyme disease making you feel you'll be safer in the comfort of your room than the great outdoors? This article can help you assess your Lyme disease risk.|
|Bug Bites and Stings In most cases, bug bites and stings are just nuisances. But in some cases, they can cause infections and allergic reactions. It's important to know the signs, and when to get medical attention.|
|Bug Bites and Stings Generally, insect bites and stings are harmless. Find out how to keep pests from ruining your fun.|
|What to Do When You're Bugged by Bugs Ugh. Bugs. They're cool, but they also can ruin your day by stinging or biting you. Find out how to handle them in this article.|
|First Aid: Insect Stings and Bites Being stung by a bug is often just irritating and doesn't require medical treatment. But kids who are highly allergic to stings may need emergency medical care.|
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