Like a lot of families, we much prefer firing up the grill to turning on the oven during these miserably hot days. But the mosquitoes can be tough to bear. We use bug spray when we’re out in the evenings, but I often wonder if the bug spray is worse than the bite. Is it safe to use bug spray?

Bug spray with DEET certainly has a use for kids who are camping in a marshy, swampy area with a lot of insects or are otherwise exposed to many biting insects. But heavy duty bug spray isn’t necessary for everyday use, such as at backyard picnics or barbeques.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has some recommendations for using bug spray:

  • For children ages 2 – 12: Use products with DEET concentrations of 30 percent or less (Some experts suggest that it is acceptable to apply repellent with low concentrations of DEET to infants older than two months.)
  • 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 the repellent sparingly around their ears.
  • Do not apply repellent to children’s hands, because children tend to put their hands in their mouths.
  • Do not allow a young child to apply his or her own insect repellent.
  • Do not use combination sunscreen-insect repellent products because reapplying frequently enough to prevent sunburn will expose your child to too much DEET. 
  • Do not apply repellent to skin under clothing. If repellent is applied to clothing, wash treated clothing before wearing again.

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