Protect Children from Bug Bites this Summer

Advice for protecting kids from ticks fleas and mosquitoes

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Mosquito and tick bites are more than a nuisance — they carry serious diseases. A few steps can help protect children from these bug bites.

Summer weather means more time spent outdoors and brings an increased risk of illness from tick, flea and mosquito bites.

Mosquitoes can transmit eastern equine encephalitis, West Nile virus, dengue fever and St. Louis encephalitis virus. Most of these viral diseases cause potentially harmful inflammation of the brain.

Ticks can transmit Lyme disease. The plague can be transmitted by fleas. Both Lyme disease and the plague are bacterial infections.

Some of these illnesses are treatable, but preventing the bite in the first place is the best strategy. Products that include DEET are the best repellents against ticks, fleas and mosquito bites, but care must be taken to use the lowest amount of DEET that provides the most protection.

"Ask your pediatrician about products to protect against bug bites."

Using guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Mike Gittelman, MD, Co-Director of the Comprehensive Children’s Injury Center and a team of experts from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, developed a set of tips for helping to protect kids from tick and mosquito bites this summer.

  • More mosquitoes are out in the evening so wear long shirts, pants and socks to prevent bites during those hours.
  • Avoid smelling too good to the bugs. Don’t use perfumed soaps or sprays on children.
  • Don’t dress children who will be spending time outdoors in bright colors or flowery printed clothing.
  • Keep away from areas where insects might be more common, such as stagnant water where mosquitoes breed or areas where flowers are blooming.
  • Protect children with products containing DEET. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends products that contain 10 to 20 percent DEET. Ten percent DEET will provide protection for 2 hours and 20 percent DEET will protect for 5 hours.
  • Products containing 5 to 10 percent picaridin are also insect repellents.
  • Stay away from products that combine a sunscreen with an insect repellant. The sunscreen will need to be reapplied after some time, but it may not be advisable to reapply the insect repellant.
  • Do not use products containing DEET on children under 2 months old.
  • When children come in from outdoors, wash off repellant and check their clothing and bodies thoroughly for ticks.
  • See a doctor for rash, body aches, fever, fatigue, headaches or stiff neck 1 to 3 weeks after being bitten by a bug.

“During the summer months it is critical that parents remember to protect their children from bugs by using proper insect repellent and avoiding areas with high insect populations,” Dr. Gittelman advised.

The guidelines were published by the American Academy of Pediatrics in their 2014 Summer Safety Tips.

Review Date: 
June 28, 2014
Last Updated:
June 30, 2014