When it comes to fending off the insects that cause Lyme disease, West Nile virus, and more, citronella candles just don’t cut it. What does: products with DEET (or picaridin, an ingredient similar to DEET). All-natural repellents don’t work as well, says Michael Smith, M.D., a pediatric dermatologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, in Nashville. Here’s how to use DEET safely:
DON’T USE IT ON NEWBORNS. If your child is younger than 2 months, avoid buggy situations altogether or use a mosquito net over his stroller.
USE A PRODUCT WITH A DEET concentration of 30 percent and apply it just once a day.
SPRAY THE PRODUCT into your hands and then rub it on your child, rather than spraying it directly on him.
APPLY IT TO EXPOSED SKIN ONLY, avoiding your child’s eyes, mouth, hands (since kids often put their hands in their mouths), and any cuts.
AVOID REPELLENT-SUNSCREEN COMBO products, as sunscreen should be reapplied often.
WASH THE TREATED SKIN with soap and water after returning indoors for the day.