Do your kids get eaten alive by mosquitoes? Do you live in a tick-endemic area? Or are you planning travel to a land of mosquitoes and tropical diseases on your summer vacation? All three are a resounding “yes” for me – so I have been getting ready for battle. One of the worst things about summer is worrying about all those summer bugs that like to feast on our flesh. But I’m here to offer some solutions and tips you may not have considered.
I have a six-month old and four-year old as of this writing so that’s one too delicate for many standard bug sprays and one that gets into everything!
(Note: I’m sure there are many non-toxic home remedies to prevent bug bites; I know because I have tried them all, to little or no avail. This article is for people who need more serious chemical protection.)
Tip 1: Pre-treat clothes with Permethrin
This is a great discovery because Permethrin is safe for adults, kids, and even infants. Permethrin spray treats your clothing with mosquito and tick repellent. It’s odorless when dry, and lasts through 6 washes. You can buy it on Amazon or REI – make sure you get the one that says it’s for “clothing and gear.”
To apply, go to an outdoor area then saturate the clothing with the spray and let it dry fully, then it’s ready to go. Permethrin-treated clothes repel mosquitoes and can even kill ticks.
Tip 2: Cover up
Since my son has such an affinity for mosquito bites, I have him wear long pants (treated with Permethrin!) if there is a risk of bug bites. I buy soft cotton with cool patterns, and then ask his grandma or caregiver to sew him some super simple pants with an elastic waist and elastic cuffs. (Here is a tutorial on how to make easy kid pants – for a hot area, I would use cotton and not a t-shirt.) Mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors, so I like to look for white or light colored fabrics. Since the pants are patterned, I pair them with light-colored plain tees and long sleeved tees from Primary. The long-sleeve pajama tops look like “normal” shirts, are super comfy, and have tight sleeves which help keep mosquitoes out.
Tip 3: Protect all day
We tend to think of mosquitoes that carry disease as being most active at dusk, but there are some types of mosquitoes that are active during the day–including the ones that carry Zika virus and Dengue fever. Lest you think those are exotic tropical diseases, both have been found in the US this year. If you or your kids are susceptible to bites, think about protecting 24 hours a day.
Tip 4: Sunscreen first
Insect repellent is inactivated somewhat by sunscreen if put on in the wrong order. Put sunscreen on first and let it dry or soak in for about 5-10 minutes before applying insect repellent on top. If you need to reapply sunscreen, you need to reapply repellent on top every time. And don’t be tempted by sunscreen/repellent combo creams: they don’t work as well on either count.
Tip 5: Wipes for the win
Putting insect repellent creams or sprays on skin can be a little off-putting. I like individually packaged, single use wipes – so much easier to apply on a squirmy kid, less smelly, and you can always have a few in your bag without risk of leaking or spilling. Something like Ben’s 30% DEET wipes works well for about 8 hours protecting 2 people (more if your people are little). [Read more…]