Because of the increase in outdoor activities during the summer, insect repellants are frequently used in addition to measures taken to reduce the number of insects present in the outdoor environment. Mosquitoes can be a serious problem because they are vectors for diseases than can occur in parts of the US,. Control measures include wearing appropriate clothing, use of insect repellants, reducing the risk of mosquito bites, and limiting outdoor activities. An ideal insect repellent should have efficacy against a large number of arthropods and adequate duration of effect. It should be nonirritating, nontoxic, cosmetically acceptable, cost-effective, chemically stable, and should not stain or damage clothing.
DEET: broad-spectrum efficacy against mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers, fleas, gnats, and some flies; no evidence that concentrations above 50% increase effectiveness. Products containing up to 30% are recommended for children. DEET may damage clothing and plastics.
IR3535: available in US in concentrations of 7.5% to 20%; must be higher than 7.5% to protect against mosquitoes. Many products containing IR3535 also contain sunscreen. These should be avoided since sunscreen is applied more often than repellent.
Picaridin: used extensively in Europe and Australia; is odorless, low risk for irritation, does not damage clothing, and has no reports for toxicity. Concentration of 10% in a product recommended.
Oil of lemon eucalyptus: effective against malaria causing mosquitoes for 6 hours. Not recommended for use in children under 3 years of age.
Catmint and other essential oils: limited protection against mosquitoes; good safety profiles. High concentrations that might irritate skin required for good efficiency
Citronella: efficiency against mosquitoes usually lasts less than an hour; little evidence of efficacy against other arthropods.
Recommendations for use of insect repellents:
· Parents should read and follow repellent instructions carefully.
· Products should be applied to clothing and exposed skin only.
· Spray formulations should be applied outdoors to minimize inhalant exposure.
· When returning indoors, the skin should be washed with soap and water.
· Clothing exposed to repellents should be laundered before wearing again.
Check next blog for specific recommended insect repellents.
Recommended Insect Repellents
The following commercial products are recommended by some pediatricians. Discuss the use of any insecticide with your child’s pediatrician and read the label for active ingredients.
All Terrain Kids Herbal Armor: 11.5% soybean oil; 10.0% oil of citronella; 2.0% peppermint
oil; 1.5% cedar oil; 1.0% lemon grass oil; 0.05% geranium oil
Avon Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard Plus: Picaridin – 10%
Avon Skin-So-Soft Original Bath Oil: None stated
Ben’s 30% DEET Tick and Insect Wilderness Formula: DEET -30%
Burt’s Bees Herbal: 10% castor oil; 3.77% rosemary oil; 2.83% lemon grass oil; 0.94% cedar