You want to keep bugs off your family and out of your yard, but if the products you choose are intentionally harmful to crawling, buzzing and flying living things, are they be dangerous to you and the people you are trying to protect?
The FDA recommends closely following the directions on all products. It warns about the use of DEET containing products on children under 2 months of age, and the use of products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus on children under 3 years of age. Picaridin is another active ingredient found in insect repellants. Regardless of they type of ingredient, all bug sprays should be used with care.
- Apply repellants only to exposed skin and clothing. Don’t apply under clothing.
- Do not spray near your face. If using on the face, spray on hands first and then spread on the face avoiding the eye area.
- Do not spray directly on children to avoid accidental ingestion. Spray on hands first and then rub on the skin. Consider applying bug spray to children’s clothing before they put it on.
- Wash hands immediately after application to avoid the risk of ingestion.
- If intense protection is needed, such as when hiking or camping, treat clothing and gear with permethrin.
- Do not apply repellants more frequently than advised on the label. The lower the concentration of ingredient, the shorter its duration of efficacy. Over 50% DEET does not appear to offer additional protection.
- Combination bug sprays and sunscreens should be avoided, because you will likely need to reapply sunscreen sooner than it is safe to reapply repellant. If using a combination product, reapply for sun protection with a sunscreen-only product.
Some insects, like ticks and mosquitos, carry risk of serious illness. While I would like my family to never use bug spray, sometimes it is necessary. In these cases, take care with the label instructions and use only EPA approved ingredients. To curb the need for repellent in the first place, take a look at other ways to deal with summer bugs.