Bug Repellent Explained
Many people suffer from painful allergic reactions from insect bites. If you live near fresh or stagnant water or in places with high humidity, insect bites are a common summertime concern. Bug repellent has been a controversial topic over the years due to the active ingredient DEET (chemical name N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) that is found in many insect repellent products. In 1998, the EPA reported their findings after a comprehensive study of bug repellents containing DEET. They concluded that as long as consumers followed the drug label directions, DEET does not present a health concern.
Based on their extensive testing, the EPA believes the normal use of DEET does not present a health concern to the general public, however they do not recommend using products containing DEET in the following cases:
- On newborns
- On open wounds or irritated skin
- Near the hands, eyes or mouth of young children
- Directly on to face
They also recommend to avoid using products containing DEET under clothing, and to avoid over-application. Upon returning indoors, the EPA recommends washing your body and clothing thoroughly after using bug repellents containing DEET.
Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics announced that insect repellents containing DEET are safe to use on children as young as two months old. Products containing lemon or eucalyptus oil should not be used on children younger than three.
Choosing the right wardrobe is an essential tool for avoiding bug bites. First, avoid bright or dark-colored clothing. Wear earthy shades, which help you blend in to the outdoor landscape. Try to keep yourself covered by wearing long-sleeve shirts, pants and long socks whenever possible. Leave perfume, cologne, heavily scented shampoos and other strong-smelling products at home. In general, if you also wear the right clothes, bugs will have to work harder if they can’t smell or see your skin.