Along with the sun, the bugs are back and biting this summer. Those bug bites come with risks, including a risk of Malaria from mosquito bites in Texas. Other bug bite illnesses to be aware of include West Nile Virus and Zika caused by mosquito bites and Lyme Disease caused by tick bites. No fear though, here are some tips on how to protect kids from these bug-derived illnesses this summer.
The best way to protect your children every time they go outside is to use insect repellent. Recommended repellants include DEET for children 2 months and older and Picardan for children 6 months and older. Apply the insect repellent on all exposed skin and reapply every few hours as per the bottle’s instructions.
Different DEET insect repellents can have different amounts of DEET. The concentration of DEET determines how frequently to apply so be sure to check the directions. Your child’s skin could be sensitive to DEET so test a small area of skin prior to using.
Picardan insect repellents can range from a concentration of 5% to 20% with reapplication times varying based on concentration. Picardan insect repellents also have a risk of staining. We recommend that parents try this insect repellent first to see if they are comfortable with the effects before using it on their children (stinging).
We recommend that insect repellent is applied separately from sunscreen because the two have different reapplication schedules. Just enough insect repellent should be used to get on all parts of the skin but not have multiple coats of product over the same area. This is to prevent buildup of the insect repellent since overexposure is discouraged.
At the end of the day, be sure that your child washes the insect repellent off their skin using soap and water.
Mosquito nets are a great protection against bugs. If you are out with an infant or child who uses a stroller, using a mosquito net covering is an effective way to prevent bug bites while out and about. If your family is planning on going camping this summer, we recommend using a mosquito net covering to fight off bug bites in the night.
More insect repellent information can be found at https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/Pages/Insect-Repellents.aspx
For more summer safety information, https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/Pages/Summer-Safety-Tips-Staying-Safe-Outdoors.aspx
Uma Reddy is a second year medical student and former West Plano Pediatric patient. West Plano Pediatrics wishes her the best of luck in the future!