Evidence-based repellent recommendations for kids

May 06, 2016, 4:00am

Pediatric dermatologist, Bernard Cohen, M.D., shares his recommendations to parents and children for repelling mosquitos.

Dr. CohenBernard Cohen, M.D., professor of pediatrics and dermatology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md., says CDC, FDA, EPA and the American Academy of Pediatrics are generally aligned on repellent recommendations for children.

“I think that most people would agree that DEET is the most effective mosquito repellent,” Dr. Cohen says. “But if you increase the concentration above 30% or 40%, you really don’t increase the efficacy in terms of how effective it is and how long the product lasts.”

Also see: Dermatologists discuss mosquito repellent considerations

For safety and efficacy reasons, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children use DEET products with concentrations no higher than 30%, according to Dr. Cohen. The length of time for effective coverage is about four hours (up to five hours), before the need to reapply.

For those concerned about using DEET-containing products on children, Dr. Cohen recommends repellants containing from 10% to 15% of the active ingredient picaridin. It’s not quite as effective and long-lasting as DEET, he says. But it’s close and is a good alternative to DEET repellants.

Other recommendations to parents and children:

Generally, the American Academy of Pediatrics, CDC and FDA agree that there is no particular advantage to combination products that add sunscreen to insect repellant. In fact, these combination products may be less safe to use, given that sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, Dr. Cohen says.

Don’t forget the common sense things, such as wearing long sleeves and pants to reduce exposure. And when going camping or hiking, consider products with repellents in canvas and other gear materials, which could help repel mosquitos. Permethrin is such an agent, which is commonly used in head lice and scabies products, he says.

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