EWG

Sign up to receive email updates, action alerts, health tips, promotions to support our work and more from EWG. You can opt-out at any time. [Privacy]

 

Kids

July 17, 2013

EWG's Guide to Bug Repellents: Kids

 

No repellent is right every time. Click to find your best bet.

 

I want to protect my baby from bug bites.

Read more

Choose a repellent with: Do not use bug repellents on infants under 6 months.

Other things to consider:

  • Use fine netting over strollers and baby carriers.

 

 

I want to protect my kids against Lyme disease.

Read more

Choose a repellent with: Picaridin (20%), IR3535 (20%), Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (30-40%, unless your child is under 3 – see note) or DEET (see note for concentrations).

Other things to consider:

  • No repellent is 100% effective, so take extra precautions to avoid tick bites.
  • Cover up your kids with pants, socks and shoes and long sleeves, especially when they are venturing into heavy brush with likely tick infestations. Also consider permethrin-treated clothing.
  • Health agencies offer conflicting advice about the DEET concentration safe for children. CDC recommends DEET with maximum concentrations of 20-30% for children's protection from Lyme disease borne by ticks. Health Canada recommends DEET with concentrations no greater than 5-10% for children. But this weaker concentration may not offer a strong defense against ticks bearing Lyme disease.
  • Check for your kids thoroughly for ticks every night; remove ticks properly.
  • CDC advises not to use Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus or PMD on children under 3.
  • Natural lemon eucalyptus oil is not the same as Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.
  • When using repellent on a child, apply it to your own hands and then rub them on the child. Avoid the child's eyes and mouth. Use repellent sparingly around ears. Do not apply repellent to the child's hands. because children may put their hands in their mouths.
  • Wash hands after applying repellent and wash repellent-coated skin at the end of the day.
  • Keep bottles of bug repellent away from young children to reduce chances of accidental swallowing.

 

 

I want to protect my kids against West Nile Virus.

Read more

Choose a repellent with: Picaridin (10-20%), IR3535 (20%), DEET (7-10%), Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (30-40%, unless your child is under 3 – see note) or PMD (10%). Choose concentration based on the time your kid will spend outdoors.

Other things to consider:
  • Check out CDC’s West Nile Virus maps to find out if you are in a high-risk area.
  • No repellent is 100% effective so take extra precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
  • Cover up with pants and long sleeves when possible, especially when venturing into mosquito-infested areas.
  • CDC advises not to use Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus or PMD on children under 3.
  • Natural lemon eucalyptus oil is not the same as Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.
  • When using repellent on a child, apply it to your own hands and then rub them on the child. Avoid the child’s eyes and mouth.  Use repellent sparingly around ears. Do not apply repellent to the child’s hands because children may put their hands in their mouths.
  • Wash hands after applying repellent and wash repellent-coated skin at the end of the day.
  • Keep bottles of bug repellent away from young children to reduce chances of accidental swallowing.
 

My kid has sensitive skin/allergies.

Read more

Choose a repellent with: Your best bet may be Picaridin (5-20%) because it is less likely to irritate skin and trigger allergies. People react differently, so you may want to try other options to see what works for your child.

Other things to consider:
  • Try repellents on a small patch of exposed skin before slathering all over.
  • DEET and IR3535 may cause eye irritation.  DEET may cause skin irritation.
  • Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus may cause allergic skin reactions.
  • CDC advises not to use Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus or PMD on children under 3.
  • Many botanical repellents contain highly concentrated allergens.
  • When using repellent on a child, apply it to your own hands and then rub them on the child. Avoid the child’s eyes and mouth.  Use repellent sparingly around ears. Do not apply repellent to the child’s hands. because children may put their hands in their mouths.
  • Wash hands after applying repellent and wash repellent-coated skin at the end of the day.
  • Keep bottles of bug repellent away from young children to reduce chances of accidental swallowing.
 

I'm sending my kids to camp.

Read more

Choose a repellent with: Click here if your child is going where there is Lyme disease; click here if your child is going somewhere where there is West Nile virus. Otherwise, consider Picaridin (5-20%), IR3535 (20%), DEET (7-10%), Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (30-40%) or PMD (10%). Choose concentration based on the time your kid will spend outdoors. Other botanical products may be worth considering (see note).

Other things to consider:
  • Send kids to camp with netting for bunks.
  • Picaridin is less likely to irritate eyes and skin and may be a good choice.
  • CDC advises not to use Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus or PMD on children under 3.
  • Natural lemon eucalyptus oil is not the same as Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.
  • Some botanical repellents may be worth trying if bug-borne disease is not a concern, but many contain highly concentrated allergens.
  • Tell your kids to wash their hands after applying repellent and to wash repellent-coated skin daily.
 

Bug borne diseases are not prevalent where we live.

Read more

Choose a repellent with: Picaridin (5-10%), IR3535 (20%), DEET (7-10%), Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (30-40% - unless your child is under 3, see note) or PMD (10%). Base the concentration that you choose on the time your kid will spend outdoors. Other botanical products may also be worth considering (see note).

Other things to consider:

  • If disease-bearing bugs aren't common and bites are infrequent, consider going without repellent.
  • Picaridin is less likely to irritate eyes and skin and may be a good choice.
  • CDC advises not to use Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus or PMD on children under 3.
  • Some botanical repellents may be worth trying if bug-borne disease is not a concern, but many contain highly concentrated allergens. Effectiveness varies widely; experiment to find out what works best for your children in your area.
  • Natural lemon eucalyptus oil is not the same as Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.
  • When using repellent on a child, apply it to your own hands and then rub them on the child. Avoid the child's eyes and mouth. Use repellent sparingly around ears. Do not apply repellent to the child's hands. because children may put their hands in their mouths.
  • Wash hands after applying repellent and wash repellent-coated skin at the end of the day.
  • Keep bottles of bug repellent away from young children to reduce chances of accidental swallowing.