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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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The Spokesman Review

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The Spokesman-Review is the Spokane region's only daily newspaper, covering news, sports, and life in Eastern Washington and North Idaho since 1883.

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Of all the creepy crawlers, ticks keep me on high alert. They can be very tiny in the nymph stage and difficult to see. They love to hang out in tall grasses along the trail and hitch a ride on hikers passing by. I plan on treating most of my clothes and gear with Sawyer Permethrin.

Joanne Gigliotti

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Ultra-compact and lightweight

House Grail
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I would often just drink directly from the sawyer squeeze if I was feeling lazy- which by the way works wonderfully.

Rachel McVittie