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Insect repellents



Insect repellents are generally available without a prescription, but they should be used sparingly on infants and young children. In fact, the most common insecticides include DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), which is a chemical not recommended for use in children under two months of age. Do not apply repellents containing DEET more than once a day on older children.

The concentrations of DEET vary significantly from product to product—ranging from less than 10 percent to more than 30 percent (or even higher)—so read the label of any product you purchase. The higher the concentration of DEET, the longer it stays working. Its effectiveness peaks at a concentration of 30 percent, which is also the maximum concentration currently recommended for children.

The safety of DEET does not appear to be related to its level of concentration; therefore, a practical approach is to select the lowest effective concentration for the amount of time your child spends outdoors. You should avoid products that include DEET plus a sunscreen since sunscreen needs to be applied frequently while DEET should only be applied once a day. If you apply DEET more frequently, it can be associated with toxicity. Also be sure to wash off the DEET with soap and water at the end of the day. Continue Reading »

Check for ticks

I grew up in the rural hills of southwestern Wisconsin. When we weren’t in school, my siblings and I were outside early after breakfast and with the exception of a meal here and there, stayed out until after dark. We spent our days running through the woods and pastures. All through spring and summer, we would hear the same repeating words when we came in at the end of the night, “Check for ticks!” What followed was the routine inspection: we checked each other’s backs and ran our fingers meticulously through our hair, always on the lookout.

It was not uncommon to pull several ticks off each night during those years. After awhile, these ticks were like siblings – always hanging around! They never bothered me. My mom pulled them off and out pretty easily. She had a lot of practice. We never had a problem with them. Continue Reading »

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