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How To Use Insect Repellents On Children

Insect Repellent on children, Bard and Didriksen

It’s that time of year again – kids are spending more time outside, and the bugs are biting. You want to protect your children from uncomfortable bug bites and pain plus keep them healthy and safe from insect-transmitted diseases such as Lyme disease, West Nile Virus or even Zika. But you’re concerned about whether or not they’re safe and effective.

The FDA reassures parents that insect repellents, in general, can be used at any age over two months old (unless the label says otherwise). However, they maintain that parents need to follow the label directions and make sure that the active ingredients are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as safe and healthy.


DEET is a popular insect repellent used mainly to prevent insect-related diseases. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that children over two months of age can use 10-30% DEET (but should not be used on children under 2 months old). The percentages refer to the length of time that protection lasts, not the strength. (10% lasts for about two hours, and 30% lasts for about five.)

Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus

While it has shown to be as effective as DEET, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) doesn’t recommend using Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus on children under three years old until more studies have been done. (Note that natural lemon eucalyptus oil is not the same as Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.)


Some parents like Picaridin better than DEET because it doesn’t feel greasy, have an odor, or melt plastic. However, it’s just as effective as DEET in combating insects. It’s included in Cutter and Avon products

Sunscreen and Repellent Combination

The Skin Cancer Foundation doesn’t recommend using combination products because the repellent can decrease the effectiveness of the sunscreen, and on the flip side, the toxicity of the repellent can increase when mixed with sunscreen. However, applying these two products separately is fine when you follow the application directions for each.

If you’d like to learn more about insect repellents and keeping your children healthy and safe this summer don’t hesitate to contact us.