Mosquitos: How to Choose Use Insect Repellents (cont.)

Parents should choose the type and concentration of repellent to be used by taking into account the amount of time that a child will be outdoors, exposure to mosquitoes, and the risk of mosquito-transmitted disease in the area.

If you are concerned about using repellent products on children you may wish to consult a health care provider for advice or contact the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) through their toll-free number, 1-800-858-7378 or npic.orst.edu

Always follow the recommendations appearing on the product label when using repellent on children.

  • When using repellent on a child, apply it to your own hands and then rub them on your child. Avoid children's eyes and mouth and use it sparingly around their ears.
  • Do not apply repellent to children's hands. (Children may put their hands in their mouths.)
  • Do not allow young children to apply insect repellent to themselves; have an adult do it for them.
  • Keep repellents out of reach of children.
  • Do not apply repellent to skin under clothing. If repellent is applied to clothing, wash treated clothing before wearing again.

In addition to wearing repellent, you can protect yourself and your family by taking these precautions:

  • Wear clothing with long pants and long sleeves while outdoors. Apply DEET or other repellents such as permethrin to clothing, as mosquitoes may bite through thin fabric. (Remember: don't use permethrin on skin.)
  • Use mosquito netting over infant carriers.
  • Reduce the number of mosquitoes in your area by getting rid of containers with standing water that provide breeding places for the mosquitoes.

Using Insect Repellents Safely

  • Always follow the instructions on the product label.
  • Apply repellents only to exposed skin and/or clothing (as directed on the product label.) Do not use repellents under clothing.
  • Never use repellents over cuts, wounds or irritated skin.
  • Do not apply to eyes or mouth, and apply sparingly around ears. When using sprays, do not spray directly on face-spray on hands first and then apply to face.
  • Do not allow children to handle the product. When using on children, apply to your own hands first and then put it on the child. You may not want to apply to children's hands.
  • Use just enough repellent to cover exposed skin and/or clothing. Heavy application and saturation are generally unnecessary for effectiveness. If biting insects do not respond to a thin film of repellent, then apply a bit more.
  • After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water or bathe. This is particularly important when repellents are used repeatedly in a day or on consecutive days. Also, wash treated clothing before wearing it again. (This precaution may vary with different repellents-check the product label.)
  • If you or your child get a rash or other bad reaction from an insect repellent, stop using the repellent, wash the repellent off with mild soap and water, and call a local poison control center for further guidance. If you go to a doctor because of the repellent, take the repellent with you to show the doctor.

Note that the label for products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus specifies that they should not to be used on children under the age of three years.

Other than those listed above, EPA does not recommend any additional precautions for using registered repellents on pregnant or lactating women, or on children.

Can I use an insect repellent and a product containing sunscreen at the same time? What are the recommendations for combination sunscreen/insect repellent products ?

Yes. People can, and should, use both a sunscreen and an insect repellent when they are outdoors. Follow the instructions on the package for proper application of each product. In general, the recommendation is to apply sunscreen first, followed by repellent.

It is recommended NOT to use a single product that combines insect repellent containing DEET and sunscreen, because the instructions for use of insect repellents and use of sunscreen are different. In most situations, insect repellent does not need to be reapplied as frequently as sunscreen. While no recommendations are available at this time regarding products that combine other active ingredients and sunscreen, it is important to always follow the label on whatever product you are using.

To protect from sun exposure and insect bites, you can also wear long sleeves and long pants. You can also apply insect repellent to your clothing, rather than directly to your skin.

Important Information on Using Pesticides

EPA recommends the following precautions when using an insect repellent or pesticide:

  • Check the container to ensure that the product bears an EPA-approved label and registration number. Never use a product that has not been approved for use by EPA!

  • Read the entire label before using a pesticide. Even if you have used it before, read the label again - don't trust your memory.

  • Follow use directions carefully, use only the amount directed, at the time and under the conditions specified, and for the purpose listed. For example, if you need a tick repellent, make sure that the product label lists this use. If ticks are not listed, the product may not be formulated for that use.

  • Store pesticides away from children's reach, in a locked utility cabinet or garden shed.

For more, please visit the following areas:

The above information has been provided with the kind permission of the Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov).


Last Editorial Review: 7/24/2006