How to Choose and Use Insect Repellent
Whether you are traveling or just getting ready for Spring and Summer, you need to choose and use insect repellents to prevent getting bit. Avoiding bites from mosquitoes and ticks helps to prevent infections such as Zika, dengue, chikungunya, malaria, West Nile virus, Lyme disease and more.
Any product can be called a repellent. Buy one with DEET, Picardin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or These products have been tested for both safety and effectiveness by the US government.
Read the label for safe use. DEET (20-30%) can be used on children 2 months and older while oil of lemon eucalyptus is not recommended for children less than 3 years old. To apply on children, first put some on your hands (lotion or spray) and then rub it on the child’s exposed skin. Remember if it’s covered it won’t get bit. So cover up and use repellent on exposed skin.
Treat your clothes with permetherin. Spray outdoor clothes and let dry overnight and they will prevent insect bites for up to 6 weeks or 6 launderings whichever comes first. Read the label as products differ. Traveling? Spray your clothes before you pack them.
Sunscreen and bug spray. Apply sunscreen first, let dry and then apply insect repellent on top. Reapply sunscreen as needed. Using 8-10 hour repellent is easier than products that need to be reapplied every 4 hours.
“Natural” products? Remember anything can call itself an insect repellent. Oil of lemon eucalyptus may be considered natural but it is not recommended for children less than 3 while DEET can be used on infants over 2 months. Don’t be fooled by the term natural. Poison ivy is natural while Vitamin C from oranges is identical to that made in the lab.
Check expiration dates on repellent. Don’t rely on buying repellent overseas. Bring it on your checked bag or less than 3 ounce size on carry on. You may not find products overseas and labels may not be in English.