Posts Tagged ‘bug spray’

Traveling this summer? Stay safe from Zika

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

Summer is travel season for many of us. Before your trip, make sure you’re protected from Zika. The Zika virus is still spreading in certain areas (called Zika-affected areas) around the world. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an interactive world map to show you areas with risk of Zika.  If you’re pregnant or planning to get pregnant, don’t travel to a Zika-affected area unless it’s absolutely necessary.

If you get infected with Zika during pregnancy, you can pass it to your baby. Zika infection during pregnancy causes a birth defect called microcephaly and other brain and health problems. You can get infected with the Zika virus through body fluids, like blood and semen, and through mosquito bites.

If you’re planning to travel to a Zika-affected area, talk to your health care provider before you go about how to protect yourself from Zika. Here’s what you can do:

  • Don’t have sex. If you do have sex, use a barrier method of birth control (like a condom or dental dam) every time.
  • Protect yourself from mosquitoes. Here’s how:
    • Use an insect repellant, like bug spray or lotion, that’s registered with the Environmental Protection Agency. Use one with one or more of these ingredients: DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, IR3535, and 2-undecanone. These ingredients are safe to use during pregnancy.
  • Stay in places that have air conditioning or screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out. If you’re in a Zika-affected area and sleeping outside or in a room that doesn’t have screens on doors and windows, sleep under a mosquito net.
    • Wear a hat, a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, shoes and socks.

If you’ve been in a Zika-affected area, use bug spray or lotion for 3 weeks after you get back to help prevent Zika from spreading to others.

For more information:


The lowdown on insect repellants

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

Zika - bug sprayProtecting yourself from mosquito bites is key in avoiding exposure to the Zika virus. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Use an insect repellant (bug spray or lotion) that is EPA registered.
  • Products containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol and IR3535, are safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • If you use a product containing DEET, make sure it has at least 20% DEET, and always follow the instructions on the product label.
  • Most bug sprays and lotions are safe to use on babies 2 months and older. However, DO NOT USE PRODUCTS THAT CONTAIN OIL OF LEMON EUCALPTUS OR PARA-MENTHANE-DIOL ON CHILDREN YOUNGER THAN 3 YEARS OF AGE.
  • Do not put bug spray or lotion on under clothing.
  • If you are using sunscreen, too, put it on first, before you use bug spray or lotion.

If you have recently traveled to a Zika-affected area, use bug spray or lotion for 3 weeks after you get back. This way, if you are bitten by a mosquito, it will not become infected with the Zika virus and spread it to other people.

Learn ways to #ZAPzika in our article: how to stay safe, how it can affect a baby during pregnancy, and what to do if you think you may have been exposed.

Have questions?  Send them to our health education specialists at


Sunscreen safety for pregnant women

Friday, June 6th, 2014

mom and child in sunSummer is here! Sunscreen is important whenever you are outside, especially if you are pregnant. During pregnancy your skin is more sensitive to sunlight than it was before pregnancy. The sun gives off ultraviolet radiation (UV) which can increase the risk of skin cancer, give you a bad burn and increase signs of aging.

There are two types of rays that can cause skin damage. These are ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B radiation (UVA and UVB). Both of these can cause premature aging and skin cancer however UVB rays are what cause sunburn. It is important to choose a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB. But, choosing the right sunscreen to slather on can be confusing.

Here are tips on choosing the right sunscreen for you:

•    Avoid retinyl palmitate This type of vitamin A has been linked to an increased risk of skin cancer and is associated with a risk of birth defects.
•    Choose sunscreen with a sun protected factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.
•    Only use products that have UVA and UVB protection – also called Broad Spectrum protection
•    Use a water resistant sunscreen if you intend to go swimming
•    Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more often if you are swimming or sweating (even if you use water resistant sunscreen).
•    Limit your time in the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun rays are most intense.

Combination products

To fend off those pesky mosquitoes, there are also combination sunscreen products that include bug spray. These can be  great two-for-one products, but combination sunscreens may be more hazardous that you thought. A combination product has the possibility of toxic exposure, due to overdosing on the bug repellant. It’s safe to apply the combination lotion first, but when it’s time to reapply, skip the combination and just use sunscreen.

Read our post for specific tips on how to keep your baby safe in the sun.

Have fun outside this summer, but wear your hat, sunglasses, stay well hydrated and remember your sunscreen!

Sunscreen and bug spray

Friday, June 24th, 2011

sunscreenThis week it is officially summer! We’re all outside playin’ in the grass, splashin’ in the pool. We know it’s very important to slather on the sunscreen to keep ourselves and little ones from turning red as a beet. And if you live where the mosquitos hang out, you want to spray on bug repellant to keep those B52 biters at bay.

There are a couple of products that combine bug repellant with sunscreen. Sounds great, right? Wrong. The problem with a combination product is the real possibility of toxic exposure, overdosing on the bug repellant. We have learned from research that for maximum benefit it’s important to reapply sunblock every two hours. If you use a combination product, you’ll be reapplying the bug repellant chemicals as well – not good.

So, to be on the safe side, keep these products separate, or use the combination product once, and then apply sunblock only every two hours afterward. If you’re worried about the chemicals in bug repellant, here’s an alternative. Soybean oil based repellents are healthier for you and tests have found them to be as effective as a 15% concentration of DEET, lasting for 4 to 8 hours.

Pesticides and our kids

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

pesticidesfertilizersPesticides can protect us from bugs and disease, but they can get into our food and water and harm us, too. Here are some tips for protecting your child’s food:
• Wash all fresh fruits and veggies with water before your child eats them.
• Give your child fresh fruits and veggies that are in season. They are less likely to have been heavily sprayed.
• When possible, avoid giving your children foods that have been treated with chemical pesticides. Look for locally and organically grown.

How else can we protect our kids from pests (ants, roaches, mice) and the harmful chemicals in pesticides?
• Remove food and water that might attract pests. Leaky water pipes can attract thirsty pests.
• Destroy places where pests can live and breed. Examples: litter, plant debris.
• If you decide to use a pesticide, read the label first. Follow the directions exactly. Pay special attention to warnings, cautions and restrictions.
• Whenever you can, use non-chemical pesticides. But remember, even natural ingredients can sometimes be poisonous. Always read the label.
• Use only the amount recommended. Don’t think that twice the amount will do twice the job!
• If the label says so, wear plastic gloves, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when using a pesticide. Be careful not to inhale fumes while applying.
• Cover all food before using a pesticide indoors.
• Keep children, their toys and pets away from the area where a pesticide is being used. Wait until the area has dried or until the label says it’s safe for them to come back.
• Don’t spray outside on a windy or rainy day.
• When using a pesticide outside, be sure it doesn’t blow or run into the swimming pool, the vegetable garden, the sandbox, or the neighbor’s yard.
• Don’t buy more than you need. If you have leftover pesticides, check with your local government. Some communities have special programs to collect and dispose of hazardous products.
• If you use a pest-control service, ask them for information about the risks and safety precautions for their products.
• Put the phone number of the Poison Control Center near your phone: (800) 222-1222.
• Store pesticides out of children’s reach. Use a locked cabinet or garden shed. Child-proof safety latches are also a good idea. You can buy them at a hardware or home-supply store.
• Never put a pesticide in a container that children might think is food or drink. For instance, a jar or bottle with a liquid pesticide might look like something to drink.
• Never place ant, roach, mice or rat bait where small children can get to them.
• Teach your children that pesticides are poison and that they shouldn’t touch them.
• Tell baby-sitters and grandparents about the dangers of pesticides.

The Environmental Protection Agency has more information about how to prevent poisonings in your home.

Natural ways to keep bugs at bay

Friday, June 12th, 2009

mosquito-pestsLet’s have a B-B-Q, play ball, toss a Frisbee, read in a hammock, draw on the sidewalk with chalk, blow bubbles and just enjoy being outside.  Got bugs? Plant a defense.

Once you have gotten rid of any sources of standing water in your yard that attract mosquitoes (bird baths, tire swings, watering cans), consider adding some garden plants that are natural repellents.  Put them in pots on your deck or patio or along a sidewalk.  While you’ll enjoy the way they look or the tasty treats some provide, mosquitoes may become annoyed and decide to move out.  Scented geraniums, lemon thyme, marigolds, pennyroyal, citrosa, sweet basil, rosemary, mint (make sure you keep it in a container or it will take over your yard) and sassafras all have some degree of built-in repellents that drive bugs away.  But, the repellent factor works much better when the leaves are crushed rather than sitting still, so rubbing a leaf between your fingers occasionally while you’re sipping your iced tea can give this property a boost.

So what’s good to put directly on you and the kids?  While it is a very effective chemical, we have written before about the safety issues related to products containig DEET.  Soybean oil based repellents are healthier for you and tests have found them to be as effective as a 15% concentration of DEET, lasting for 4 to 8 hours.

Bug spray

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Yippie, the weather is gorgeous and we can all go outside again!  While you’re thinking this, so are the mosquitoes and other irritating critters.  So, how much bug spray, if any, should  you use on your little tike?

Most of us have heard that DEET works best at keeping bugs at bay.  However, according to the FDA, we should not use products with permethrin or DEET in them on children less than 2 months old. There are some safe products that don’t have DEET and contain citronella, so look around.  Unfortunately, they are not as effective as products containing DEET and need to be reapplied periodically.  Products with oil of eucalyptus in them should not be used on children under three years old.   With any of these products, do not use it on sunburned skin, cuts, rashes, or other skin conditions, avoid the area around the eyes and forget the hands (they’ll be in the mouth most of the time).    If you use bug spray on your clothes, wash them before wearing them again.

Some sunscreens have DEET mixed in – they’re 2-for-1 products.  They’re great for short-term activity, but for long-term outdoor exposures, you won’t want to reapply them because the repeated application may increase the risk of toxic exposure.  Add a sunscreen by itself later.

There are other things you can do, besides using bug spray, to help keep those nippy bugs away.  Put long-sleeved shirts and long pants on the kids.  There are some great lightweight clothes in the stores these days.  Be sure to keep something on their feet so the mosquitoes don’t bite and the bees don’t sting.  If you’re little one has a baldy bean, don’t forget a hat.  Avoid using scented lotions that can attract unwanted attention.  Shake out the tire swing so there is no standing water in it where mosquitoes can breed.  Keep the kid’s wading pool empty and on it’s side when not in use.

Once everyone is tuckered out and ready for a nap, wash away all applied products with soap and water.  And, depending on where you live, don’t forget to check for ticks!