You’ve heard about the Zika virus in certain parts of the United States, Puerto Rico and other countries, such as Brazil. One of the ways to combat Zika is to protect yourself from mosquito bites. Babies and children need protection, too, but certain precautions should be taken.
Here are the CDC’s guidelines:
- Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old.
- Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children under 3 years old.
- Always follow instructions (on the label) when applying insect repellent to children.
- Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin.
- Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.
What about “natural” or non-EPA registered repellants?
We do not know the effectiveness of non-EPA registered insect repellents, including some natural repellents.
- To protect yourself against diseases like chikungunya, dengue, and Zika, CDC and EPA recommend using an EPA-registered insect repellent.
- Choosing an EPA-registered repellent ensures the EPA has evaluated the product for effectiveness. The EPA’s search tool can help you find the one that is best for you or your child, depending on different factors.
Other things you can do:
- You can protect your baby or child from insect bites by dressing him in pants and shirts with long sleeves, shoes and socks.
- Cover the crib, bassinet or stroller with mosquito netting.
- Take steps to reduce mosquitoes inside and outside of your home by using screens or staying indoors where there is air conditioning.
- Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, (kiddie) pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, or trash containers.
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers more tips on using repellents safely.
They also note that the following products are not effective repellents:
- Wristbands soaked in chemical repellents
- Garlic or vitamin B1 taken by mouth
- Ultrasonic devices that give off sound waves designed to keep insects away
- Bird or bat houses
- Backyard bug zappers (Insects may actually be attracted to your yard).
- Always follow the product label instructions.
- Reapply insect repellent as directed.
- Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
- If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
- Permethrin should not be applied to skin – apply it to your child’s clothing only.
See our article on Zika for more information on how to keep your family safe.
Questions? Text or email AskUs@marchofdimes.org.