Ultimate Guide to Bug Repellent for Kids (2023)

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Preventing Bites

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Pesky bugs can ruin a family picnic, hike, or trip to the park. Beat the bugs and make sure your kids are safe from bug bites with kid-safe bug repellent. We'll tell you what to look for and what to avoid when choosing bug repellent and let you know how to apply the lotion or spray for the best results.

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Facts About DEET

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The American Academy of Pediatrics says that insect repellents containing DEET are safe for children as young as 2 months. Bug repellents with DEET come in varying strengths; some contain up to 30% DEET. A higher concentration of DEET doesn't mean a product is stronger, only that it lasts longer.

To buy! OFF! Deep Woods Insect & Mosquito Repellent, $11.89; amazon.com

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Facts About Picaridin

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Picaridin is an odorless synthetic ingredient found in some bug repellents. It is relatively new in the United States but has been used in Europe for more than 10 years. It is similar to DEET and provides long-lasting protection against bugs. Products with Picaridin can be used on babies as young as 2 months.

To buy! Sawyer Products 20% Picaridin Insect Repellent, $9.99; amazon.com

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Natural Bug Repellents

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(Video) Pesticide Companies Don't Want You to Know These Secrets | Complete Guide to Organic Pest Control

Although DEET is safe for use on children, many parents prefer to use bug repellents that are DEET-free. Natural repellents are made with plant oils such as citronella, lemongrass, peppermint, and cedarwood. They generally need to be reapplied more often than products containing DEET.

To buy! Badger Anti-Bug Shake & Spray, $20.99; amazon.com

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Natural Ways to Avoid Bites

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Using bug repellent is one way to prevent itchy bug bites, but there are several other ways to avoid pesky bugs. Have your kids wear loose-fitting, long-sleeve clothing in muted colors. Wear socks and shoes instead of sandals. Stay inside early in the morning and at dusk when bugs are the worst. Don't use scented lotions that can attract bugs.

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Thermacell Radius Zone Mosquito Repellent

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Keep your patio open for play once the sun goes down with the Thermacell Radius Zone Mosquito Repellent. "It releases an EPA regulated repellent that disorients mosquitoes and is based on a natural repellent produced by chrysanthemums," says John Hainze, Ph.D., an entomologist in Seattle who conducted research on the product. "It's been shown to clear the air within a 110-square-foot area, even when there are a lot of biting mosquitoes." The scent-free portable device is smaller than a soda can and lasts for at least six hours on a single charge.

—​Emily Elveru

To buy! Thermacell Radius Zone Mosquito Repellent, $49.99; amazon.com

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Bug Repellent Safety Tips

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Lotions that combine bug repellent and sunscreen might sound like a good idea, but they aren't. The reason is that sunscreen needs to be reapplied every few hours, but you shouldn't expose your children to that much bug repellent. Take the time to apply each product separately unless you know you will only be outside for a few hours.

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Applying Bug Repellent

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Once you've chosen a bug repellent, it's important that you use it properly. Apply product only to exposed skin. Avoid hands, eyes, cuts, or irritations. You might want to put it on your hands first, then rub it on your child so you don't use too much. Wash the repellent off when your child is done being outside.

Don't let bugs stop you from being outside this summer. Here are some things to remember when applying bug repellent:

* Always follow the instructions for application of bug repellent.

* Most repellents do not protect against stinging bugs such as wasps, bees, or fire ants.

* Kids shouldn't apply bug repellent themselves.

* Wash your hands after application.

* Don't spray repellent inside or near food.

(Video) 10 Organic Ways to Control Pests in the Garden

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Baby Care Basics: How to Treat Bug Bites

Was your child bitten? Find out the best way to treat the bug bite and soothe away the itch.

To buy! Benadryl Extra Strength Anti-Itch Cooling Spray, $22.42; amazon.com

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Bite Blocker

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The American Academy of Pediatrics says Bite Blocker herbal lotion is a safe, natural bug repellent for kids and women who are pregnant. It is made with natural ingredients and has a protection time of 90-120 minutes. It is safe for children as young as two months. It repels mosquitoes, black flies, and ticks.

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Repel Lemon Eucalyptus

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This natural bug repellent offers long-lasting protection for four to six hours, which is similar to projections found in products containing 25% DEET. It protects against mosquitoes, gnats, and ticks. It is not recommended for use on children under 3 years old and can be applied only twice daily.

To Buy! Repel Lemon Eucalyptus, $7; amazon.com

(Video) Best Repellent best mosquito repellant

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Cutter Advanced Insect Repellent

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The key ingredient in Cutter Advanced is picaridin, which is similar to DEET. Cutter Advanced is effective for up to two and a half hours and can be applied up to three times daily. Its odorless, nonsticky formula makes it a great choice for kids. It is safe for use on babies as young as 2 months.

To buy! Cutter Advanced Insect Repellent, $10.13; amazon.com

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EcoSmart Organic Insect Repellent

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This natural and organic insect repellent is safe for kids and the environment. The key ingredient is peppermint oil -- so it smells good -- along with other organic plant oils. Spray it directly on skin to keep mosquitoes, gnats, and ticks away.

To buy! EcoSmart Organic Insect Repellent, $16.54; amazon.com

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Insect Repellent Wristband

Ultimate Guide to Bug Repellent for Kids (13)

(Video) Proof! How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs in 24 Hours GUARANTEED!

The last thing squirmy kids want to do is hold still to apply bug repellent before they go out to play. Skip the spray or lotion and try a bracelet or anklet. The bands are DEET-free and contain citronella, lemongrass, and geranium oils. They are effective for up to 100 hours if stored properly.

To buy! Insect Repellent Wristband, $16.95; amazon.com

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Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Picaridin

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Protect your kids from bugs and bites for up to eight hours with this Skin So Soft spray from Avon. It repels mosquitoes, gnats, no-see-ums, and flies. It is also available in wipes for easy application on the go.

To buy! Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Picaridin, $29.95; amazon.com

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OFF! FamilyCare Insect Repellent

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The best part about this bug repellent — aside from the fact that it really does keep the bugs at bay — is its sweet tropical scent. It contains 4.75% DEET and repels mosquitoes, gnats, and no-see-ums for up to two hours. Spray it on exposed skin and clothing for the best results.

To buy! OFF! FamilyCare Insect Repellent, $5.88; amazon.com

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Buzz Away Extreme Towelettes

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These mini wipes are perfect for on-the-go families. Stash them in a diaper bag, in the car, or on your keychain for easy access when you're away from home. They are all-natural, DEET-free, and have a nice scent.

To buy! Buzz Away Extreme Towelettes, $9.83; amazon.com

(Video) ★ How to: Make Homemade Insecticide (Complete Step by Step Guide to Killing Garden Pests & Insects)

All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.


What is the AAP recommendation for bug spray? ›

The AAP recommends that repellents should contain no more than 30% DEET when used on children. Insect repellents also are not recommended for children younger than 2 months. Read the label and follow all directions and precautions.

Why is DEET bad for children? ›

DEET-containing repellents should not be harmful if parents follow directions on the label to use the product safely. DEET products can cause skin rashes especially when high concentrations are used, but these reactions are rare.

Is Icaridin better than DEET for kids? ›

Icaridin is odourless and does not feel sticky or greasy. It is less likely to cause skin irritation than DEET. And it does not damage synthetic fabrics or plastics. The (PHAC) recommends icaridin as the preferred insect repellent for children 6 months to 12 years of age.

Is picaridin or DEET safer for kids? ›

Yes, DEET is a reasonable choice when used as directed, even for children. Still, after reviewing the evidence, EWG researchers concluded that it is best to use the lowest effective concentration of DEET, even though it's effective and generally safer than is commonly assumed. Picaridin is a great alternative to DEET.

What percentage of DEET does the CDC recommend? ›

CDC recommends using products with ≥20% DEET on exposed skin to reduce biting by insects that may spread disease. Recommendations regarding use of repellents are based on peer-reviewed scientific studies and data submitted to regulatory agencies.

Does FDA regulate bug spray? ›

Before they can be marketed, most skin-applied repellents must be registered by EPA. EPA registration of skin-applied repellent products indicates that they have been evaluated and approved for human safety and effectiveness when applied according to instructions on the label.

Is 100% DEET safe for kids? ›

Is DEET safe for young children? The answer is yes. Insect repellents containing DEET have been tested and approved for kids when used as directed.

Is DEET or DEET free better for kids? ›

Is DEET safe to use? According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and Dr. Balk, bug repellent with 10 to 30 percent DEET is safe to use on children who are 2 months of age or older.

What percentage of DEET is safe for kids? ›

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that repellents should contain no more than 30% DEET when used on children. Insect repellents also are not recommended for children younger than 2 months.

Is there a safe bug spray for kids? ›

Insect repellents containing DEET have been tested and approved as safe for kids older than 2 months. But take care when you use them: Choose a repellent with no more than 10% to 30% concentration of DEET (look for N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide on the label).

Which is more toxic picaridin or DEET? ›

Picaridin is not known to produce the same nervous system toxicity as DEET but has not been subjected to as much long-term testing. Human and animal studies of picaridin have not demonstrated skin, internal organ, or reproductive toxicity. Picaridin is not recommended for use in children under 2 years of age.

Can kids wear picaridin? ›

Icaridin (Picaridin)

Safe in children between 6 months and 12 years of age.

What is the toxicity of picaridin? ›

Technical grade Picaridin has low acute oral, dermal and inhalation toxicity. It is classified as Toxicity Category IV for acute inhalation toxicity and primary dermal irritation and Toxicity Category III for acute oral, acute dermal and primary eye irritation.

Which is less harmful DEET or picaridin? ›

IS PICARIDIN SAFER THAN DEET? Comparing DEET vs Picaridin, Picaridin 20% has been proven to provide equal protection against mosquitoes and superior protection against ticks in similar concentrations without the same health concerns.

Is 7% DEET enough? ›

That's why we say everyone should avoid repellents with more than 30 percent deet. At 30 percent and below, deet is safe for pregnant women and children who are at least 2 months old. But it's important not to go too low, either; in our tests, products with just 10 or 7 percent deet don't work well.

Is 100% DEET too much? ›

"DEET is very safe when used properly," Rodriguez says. For everyday needs, you can use 10% or 20% DEET to avoid mosquito bites. "Higher concentrations of DEET such as DEET 100% are only necessary in places with high mosquito density and risk for mosquito-borne illness," Rodriguez says.

Is 50% DEET too much? ›

In rare cases, using DEET products may cause skin rashes. Some persons who used products containing a high concentration of DEET or who were exposed to excessive amounts of DEET have experienced skin rashes, blisters, and skin and mucous membrane irritation. 50% provide no added protection.

Did the FDA approve DEET? ›

Using DEET on Children

DEET is approved for use on children with no age restriction. There is no restriction on the percentage of DEET in the product for use on children, since data do not show any difference in effects between young animals and adult animals in tests done for product registration.

Which pesticides are banned in us? ›

  • A. Pesticides Banned for manufacture, import and use (27 Nos.) Aldrin. Benzene Hexachloride. Calcium Cyanide. ...
  • C. Pesticide formulations banned for import, manufacture and use (4 Nos) Methomyl 24% L. Methomyl 12.5% L. ...
  • S.No. Name of Pesticides. Calcium Arsonate. EPM. ...
  • S.No. Name of Pesticides. Aluminium Phosphide. DDT.

What pesticide did the FDA ban? ›

Last year, California prohibited farmers from using chlorpyrifos products and manufacturers from selling them due to health concerns. Corteva Inc (CTVA. N), the world's largest manufacturer of the chemical, in 2020 said it would stop producing chlorpyrifos because of declining sales.

What bug repellent is safe for toddlers? ›

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, insect repellents containing DEET and picaridin are safe to use for children two months of age and older. 1 Lemon eucalyptus oil, commonly found in natural repellents, is safe for children age three and up.

What does 80% DEET mean? ›


The higher the active concentration (DEET%), the longer the protection time. Theoretically all concentration levels should be equally effective at repelling, just for different lengths of time. Bushman products contain either 20%, 40% or 80% DEET.

How do you keep mosquitoes away from kids? ›

Purchase EPA-registered insect repellent that has DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus as the active ingredient. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends products with up to 30% DEET for children over 2 months old. Do not use products containing DEET on children younger than 2 months old.

Why do people avoid DEET? ›

“Some people are sensitive and may have a skin reaction”—which could include an itchy or swollen rash—”but it's not harmful otherwise.” Still, DEET has a scary reputation. Day says this stems from several cases from the 1980s of people dying after drinking DEET.

Why do people want DEET free? ›

In addition to being gentler on the skin, the ingredients found in Deet-Free bug sprays are also less likely to pollute waterways and damage delicate ecosystems.

What is the disadvantage of DEET? ›

Occasionally, there have been reports of people having negative reactions after excessive use of repellents containing DEET. These effects included seizures, uncoordinated movements, agitation, aggressive behavior, low blood pressure, and skin irritation.

Is DEET safe yes or no? ›

The CDC states that DEET offers the best protection against mosquito bites. That being said, all of the active ingredients listed above are tested and proven to be a safe and effective way to repel mosquitos.

Should you wash DEET off? ›

Unlike sunscreen, very little DEET would be washed off with water and will last for several hours. Repeated application of a DEET-containing sunscreen product may increase the potential for toxic effects of DEET. Apply repellents only to exposed skin and/or clothing (as directed on the product label).

What is a good alternative to DEET? ›

PICARIDIN: This relatively new CDC-recommended active ingredient offers the same level of protection that people have come to expect from DEET in formulas that feel a little lighter and cleaner. It's a synthetic repellent compound that mimics the effects of piperine, which is found in plants that produce black pepper.

Can you sleep with DEET on? ›

It's not advisable to wear DEET-based sprays while you sleep, but essential oils like lavender, geranium, and citronella have deterring properties.

Is DEET banned in Europe? ›

No, as part of the regulatory process 100% DEET products are now being withdrawn throughout the European market and will no longer be available. DEET repellents over 50% in strength will not be legal for sale in the EU after 2016. Our Trek 100 repellent should be withdrawn from sale from the the 1st of January 2017.

What is the safest insect repellent? ›

Permethrin should be used on clothing and gear only, and should not be sprayed directly on the skin. However, DEET, picaridin, and some natural oils (e.g., oil of lemon eucalyptus) are safe for use on the skin.

What essential oils are safe for kids for bug repellent? ›

lavender and lemon. Both are fresh scents, safe for kids and good for keeping away mosquitoes and ticks!

Is picaridin poisonous to humans? ›

The U.S. EPA considered picaridin to be practically non-toxic for inhalation exposure.

Is picaridin a neurotoxin? ›

Absolutely. Picaridin is a CDC-recommended active ingredient and registered with the EPA. DEET is a neurotoxin that gets absorbed into the body when applied to the skin.

Which is safer picaridin or permethrin? ›

Picaridin is considered to be less-toxic than Permethrin, and probably a better choice if you need to apply more broadly than just a spot here and there, or your personal clothing.

Is DEET EPA approved? ›

Rather than killing them, DEET works by making it hard for these biting bugs to smell us. After it was developed by the U.S. Army in 1946, DEET was registered for use by the general public in 1957. Approximately 120 products containing DEET are currently registered with EPA by about 30 different companies.

What are the recommendations for DEET? ›

Generally, repellent with DEET should not be applied more than once a day. DEET can put on exposed skin, as well as clothing, socks, and shoes. But don't use it on your child's face, under clothing, on cuts or irritated skin, or on the hands of young children.

Who recommended insect repellent? ›

To protect yourself against diseases spread by mosquitoes, CDC and EPA recommend using an EPA-registered insect repellent. Choosing an EPA-registered repellent ensures the EPA has evaluated the product for effectiveness.

What is the recommended DEET concentration? ›

Products with concentrations around 10 percent are effective for periods of approximately two hours. As the concentration of DEET increases, the duration of protection increases. For example, a DEET concentration of about 24 percent has been shown to provide an average of five hours of protection.

Is DEET safe for kids? ›

The answer is yes. Insect repellents containing DEET have been tested and approved for kids when used as directed. You can use DEET-containing bug repellents on children ages 2 months and older, but there are some guidelines to follow: Products containing DEET should be used only once per day on children.

Which insect repellent is safest? ›

Specifically, spray products with at least 20 percent picaridin have worked as well as or better than some deet-based ones. Not as much research has been done on picaridin as on deet. But the data that does exist indicate that the chemical is safe, and the World Health Organization and the CDC recommend picaridin.

Is 20% DEET enough? ›

In most situations, an insect repellent with up to 10 per cent DEET will prevent mosquito bites. In higher-risk areas (where malaria, Ross River virus, Barmah Forest virus and dengue fever occur), products with 15–30 per cent DEET should be used.

Why does DEET have a bad reputation? ›

Still, DEET has a scary reputation. Day says this stems from several cases from the 1980s of people dying after drinking DEET. Also, thanks to their similar handles and applications, DEET is sometimes confused with DDT, a now-banned chemical insecticide that can promote cancer and birth defects.

What percentage of DEET is safe for toddlers? ›

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that repellents should contain no more than 30% DEET when used on children. Insect repellents also are not recommended for children younger than 2 months.

What is the number 1 mosquito repellent? ›

After evaluating personal mosquito repellents for effectiveness, longevity of protection, safety around children and pets, and kindness to the environment, our top pick is Sawyer's Picaridin Insect Repellent. For the best natural-ingredient repellent, we liked Repel's Lemon Eucalyptus 4-ounce Pump Spray.

Why did they ban DEET? ›

Kim said a 1991 review found many cases where high DEET concentrations were linked to severe skin reactions and neurological problems including seizures. Doctors also onsidered DEET to be the probable cause of the deaths of three children, although the link was not proven, she said.

What is #1 mosquito repellent? ›

N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide (DEET) remains the standard by which all other repellents are judged. DEET was developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and was registered for use by the general public in 1957. It is effective against mosquitoes, biting flies, chiggers, fleas, and ticks.

Is 15% DEET enough? ›

Because it is likely to be more expensive, and depending upon how long you need protection, 4 percent DEET may be all you need. Research has shown that a higher concentration of DEET does not improve its repellent properties, but does provide longer-lasting protection.

Is 25% DEET enough? ›

The more DEET a product contains, the longer the repellant can protect against mosquito bites. However, concentrations higher than 50 percent do not increase the length of protection. For most situations, 10 percent to 25 percent DEET is adequate.


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