TIPS FROM DR. L.E. WOLOVITZ (my fav home visit pediatrician!)
Summer Safety – having fun outdoors while protecting your little one from the sun and mosquitos!
– dress appropriately: for peak mosquito hours try light weight, light colored long sleeves and pants- avoid floral or brightly printed sleeveless shirts and shorts. For swim time, go ahead and get your little one used to splashing around in a hat and rash guard.
– For the non-mobile children who will be in a car seat or stroller outside, you can get a fitted mosquito net. This is great, especially in children under 2 months that you will not be able to use bug spray on. Most strollers and car seats will come with a shade to protect the little ones from direct sun. Use these as well as choosing the shady spots to help keep your child cool and comfortable.
– See below about which spray to choose but for all of them- spray on top of clothes and exposed skin (not under clothes), do not spray on their face or hands but rather spray it on your hands and gently rub it on their face and the tops of their hands and wrists. DEET has been around since the 50s and is the best studied and researched repellant. It is extraordinarily effective and has been approved for use in children above two months old by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control. DEET is available in multiple concentrations. You can select any concentration 30% or below for children based on how long you will be outside. You only want to apply this once per day- so make sure you are using a high enough concentration that you will not have to reapply. DEET toxicity is associated with inappropriate use of the insecticide by over application or ingestion or chronic use. You can prevent accidental ingestions or over applications by keeping the bug spray in a locked cabinet and not allowing children to apply it themselves. Picardin is another popular, well studied repellant in popular products like Avon’s “Skin so soft”. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 5-10% concentration applied once daily to children above 6 months. Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) and PMD (the synthetic version) appear to be effective but are not well studied and the EPA does not recommend their use in children under three.
– If you are also going to be applying sunscreen and insect repellant, apply the sunscreen first and avoid combo sunscreen/insecticide products. Use mineral sunscreens that contain zinc and/ or titanium. Choose creams not sprays or powders. Avoid sunscreens that contain vitamin A (retinol) or oxybenzone. Read more at the Environmental Working Group’s website: http://www.ewg.org/2013sunscreen/best-sunscreens/best-beach-sport-sunscreens/
– Keep your outdoor space clean. Drain all standing water and keep grass short to minimize mosquito breeding grounds.
– After playing outside its time for a bath or shower to get the bug spray off and throw the clothes in the laundry. Use fragrance free soap and detergent to make your children smell less desirable to the mosquitos.