Insect repellants create an invisible shield that repel bugs either by masking our scent or emitting a scent that they avoid. But sometimes the chemicals are just as dangerous as the bugs and the diseases they cause! Here are some things that parents need to know about the ingredients in insect repellants. Read this before applying any cream on your child’s skin.
DEET is a toxic chemical. It was originally designed for use as a pesticide, and was later developed by the Americans to use for jungle warfare! The chemical is so strong it can even corrode plastics and fade leather. Imagine what it can do to your child’s skin (which is much thinner than ours).
Studies show that long-term exposure to DEET affects brain function. One in four Everglades National Park employees (who had used DEET bug repellant every day for many years) complained of headaches, memory loss, and difficulty concentrating. Another study by Duke University found that rats exposed to the average human dose of DEET had weaker muscle coordination and control.
Organic oils like citronella and eucalyptus are sometimes used in insect repellants. However studies show that pure mineral oils can irritate the skin of children. These mineral oils are best used in aromatherapy instead of being applied directly on the skin. It is also important to remember that mineral oils have limited effectivity. They last for about two to three hours, after which the scent dissipates and no longer protects your child. This can be an issue if you are unable to reapply the insect repellant (like when your child is in school or at soccer practice).
One of the safest ingredients to use on kids’ skin is picaridin, recommended by the World Health Organization, American publication Consumer Reports, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. However, even products that use picaridin must be applied with discretion. Always ask your pediatrician about what you can use on your baby’s skin. And test the lotion or cream on a small part of your child’s skin and observe for any allergic reactions before applying all over his body.
photo from kibagusx.blogspot.com