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Offered by: Janine Lechleitner, CPNP – Premier Pediatrics

“I want to protect my child from mosquito bites, but I’m worried about health problems that DEET may cause.”

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, no evidence has been found that DEET causes cancer in animals or humans. DEET is classified by the US Environmental Protection Agency as “not classifiable as a human carcinogen.”

Many believe DEET repels insects and ticks better than other products. Why worry about mosquito and tick bites? Ticks can transmit Lyme Disease, and mosquitoes can transmit West Nile, Zika virus, Chikungunya virus and other viruses.

Some studies suggest non-DEET repellents have a similar efficacy as DEET and are considered safe when used as directed. However no studies are available looking at their long term safety. Their efficacy against ticks is unknown.

DEET repellents are considered safe when used as directed. Rarely, DEET may cause skin rashes. The American Academy of Pediatrics and Center for Disease Control recommend 10-30% DEET for children 2 months and older. DEET repellents at 10-30% have similar effectiveness. Ten percent DEET provides approximately 2 hours of protection whereas 30% provides about 5 hours.

Other ways to protect against insect and tick bites include:

  • Avoiding scented soaps, perfumes, hair spray, lotions, etc.
  • Avoid areas of stagnant water; eliminate stagnant water from around your house.
  • Avoid area where flowers are in bloom.
  • Ensure window screens fit snugly and repair holes as needed.
  • Avoid clothing with bright colors or flowery prints.
  • Use clothing (pants, long sleeve shirts, socks) during peak insect/tick times.

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