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People’s Pharmacy: Protecting kids from mosquito bites

Q. What mosquito repellents are safe for kids? I seem to remember that you have written about problems with DEET.

A. DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) has been controversial for decades. It was developed by the U.S. military shortly after World War II to protect troops from dengue, malaria and other tropical diseases carried by mosquitoes.

In 1957, it was released on the consumer market. DEET is effective in repelling ticks as well as mosquitoes, so it can help protect youngsters from Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, as well as West Nile virus.

Over the years, there have been a few reports of neurological reactions in young children (Human & Experimental Toxicology, January 2001).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency both say that DEET is safe as long as parents follow the instructions on the label.

If you prefer to avoid DEET, there are effective alternatives. Pediatrician Alan Greene recommends picaridin-containing products such as Natrapel and Sawyer on his website drgreene.com.

Products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus are also effective and considered safe for children. Consumer Reports suggests that adults should apply insect repellent to their own hands and then rub it on children’s exposed skin.

Joe Graedon, M.S., and Teresa Graedon, Ph.D. have put together numerous other detailed questions & answers, you can find them here.

LAST UPDATED

May 6, 2022

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7 Over Seventy

Media Mentions from 7 Over Seventy

Senior Services is a private, nonprofit agency helping seniors age at home with dignity. Meals-on Wheels, Williams Center, Home Care, Help Line, etc.

Senior Services is a non-profit agency with the mission of enabling seniors to live independently at home for as long as possible.

MEDIA MENTIONS

While DEET products may be more familiar by name and their chemical smell, sprays with 20 percent picaridin, like Sawyer Products, offer comparable protection without the harsh odor and oily feeling on your skin.

Kevin Brouillard
Travel & Leisure

MEDIA MENTIONS

The Sawyer Squeeze was (by far) the most common Pacific Crest Trail water filter this year – for the fifth year in a row. It’s a $39, 3 oz / 85 g hollow fiber filter that rids your drinking water of protozoa and bacteria (and floaties). It can be used with Sawyer bags (included with the filter) or with compatible water bottles (Smartwater is the bottle of choice for many hikers).

Halfway Anywhere
Media Mentions from Halfway Anywhere

MEDIA MENTIONS

SAWYER MINI WATER FILTER, $22 This has been my water filter of choice for years now. The bags can be iffy — I have had a few break – so carry a couple. However, the filter itself is reliable, light and inexpensive. -Logan

Bikepacking Team