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Insect Repellent and Kids: What Parents Need to Know

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency advises parents to always read and follow label directions in using any pesticide product, including insect repellents. Because children frequently put their hands in their eyes and mouths, the EPA recommends that all repellent products have the following precautionary statements related to children on their labels, and that parents and caregivers follow these warnings:

  1. Do not allow children to handle the product, and do not apply to children's hands. When using on children, apply to your own hands and then put it on the child.

  2. After returning indoors, wash your child’s treated skin with soap and water or bathe the child. Wash the child’s clothing.

  3. Oil-of-lemon eucalyptus products should not be used on children under the age of three. Other ingredients do not have an age restriction. (Questions often arise about use of DEET on children. DEET is approved for use on children with no age restriction, according to the EPA.)

  4. Always store insect repellents safely out of the reach of children.

In addition, when applying insect repellent to your child’s skin:

  1. Read and follow the label directions to ensure proper use. Be sure you understand how much to apply.

  2. Apply repellents only to the child’s exposed skin and/or clothing. Do not use under clothing.

  3. Do not apply near eyes and mouth, and apply sparingly around ears.

  4. When using sprays, do not spray directly into face. Spray on hands first and then apply to face.

  5. Never use repellents over cuts, wounds or irritated skin.

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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