Kids play outside a lot, and you don't want them coming in with itchy welts all over their bodies. But is it safe to cover your child's skin in DEET?
It is safe -- as long as you're careful about how you apply the chemical. When using DEET on or around children, use the following precautions:
- Don't apply DEET to children under two months of age. Their skin can absorb too much of the chemical. Doctors believe that after two months of age, though, skin permeability is similar to an adult's [source: AAP].
- For safety's sake, use the minimum amount possible when applying DEET to a child. This is actually a good rule of thumb for anyone using an insect repellent.
- Insect repellents, like any chemical compound, should be stored away from children.
- Don't let a child apply DEET -- spray it on your hands and do it for him or her. This prevents possible overuse.
If you notice an adverse reaction, it's safest to contact Poison Control for advice. You can gently wash the affected area with soap and water, and bring the insect repellent with you to the medical office.
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More Great Links
- AAP Committee on Environmental Health. "Follow Safety Precautions When Using DEET on Children." American Academy of Pediatrics. June 2003. http://www.aap.org/family/wnv-jun03.htm
- A.D.A.M. "Traveler's Guide to Avoiding Infectious Diseases." NY Times. March 31, 2008. http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/specialtopic/travelers-guide-to-avoiding-infectious-diseases/travel-precautions.html
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. " DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide) Chemical Technical Summary for Public Health and Public Safety Professionals." Department of Health and Human Services. Dec. 6, 2004. http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/consultations/deet/health-effects.html
- Beyond Pesticides. "DEET." 2009. http://www.beyondpesticides.org/gateway/pesticide/deet.htm
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Fight the Bite for Protection from Malaria." Department of Health and Human Services. 2009. http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/toolkit/DEET.pdf
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Insect Repellent Use and Safety." May 14, 2008. http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/qa/insect_repellent.htm
- Fountain, Henry. "New Theory on DEET: Mosquito Just Dislikes It." NY Times. August 18, 2008. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/19/science/19obdeet.html?_r=2
- Heid, Matt. "Choosing the Right Insect Repellent - Can DEET Be Topped?" Appalachian Mountain Club. June 2006. http://www.outdoors.org/publications/outdoors/2006/insectrepellents.cfm
- National Pesticide Information Center. "DEET Technical Fact Sheet." July 2008. http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/DEETtech.pdf
- National Pesticide Telecommunications Network. "DEET (General Fact Sheet)." March 31, 2000. http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/resources/deetgen.pdf
- Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch. "Safe Use of DEET Insect Repellent." North Carolina Public Health. August 7, 2003. http://www.epi.state.nc.us/epi/arbovirus/deet.html
- Pest Management Regulatory Agency. "Safety Tips on Using Personal Insect Repellents." Health Canada. Jan. 13, 2009. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/cps-spc/pubs/pest/_fact-fiche/deet/index-eng.php
- Rockefeller University. "Chemicals Like DEET In Bug Spray Work By Masking Human Odors." ScienceDaily. Mar. 14, 2008. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080313143052.htm
- S.C. Johnson. "DEET Fact Sheet." 2009. www.scjohnson.com/Environment/DEET_Fact_Sheet.pdf
- Spears, Tom. "Scientists Figure Out What Makes DEET Work." Calgary Herald. March 14, 2008. http://www.canada.com/calgaryherald/news/story.html?id=2dcfcee6-2eb8-42c5-b0ca-6be25bd13a4e
- United States Environmental Protection Agency. "DDT: A Brief History and Status." Oct. 22, 2007. http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/factsheets/chemicals/ddt-brief-history-status.htm
- United States Environmental Protection Agency. "How to Use Insect Repellents Safely." July 5, 2007. http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/health/mosquitoes/insectrp.htm
- United States Environmental Protection Agency. "The Insect Repellent DEET." March 23, 2007. http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/factsheets/chemicals/deet.htm
- Waters, Rob. "Pesticides, Nerve Gas Pills Tied to Gulf War Illness." Bloomberg.com. March 10, 2008. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601124&sid=ahNEhgssqjkM&refer=home