Vlada Korol: Choose the Right Insect Repellent!
It’s the second month of summer in Chicago, and finally good weather is here as well! With all the summer outdoor fun and relaxation, such as festivals, barbecues, camping, swimming pool…. come those annoying little critters, the insects! We have to take proper caution for our children and ourselves. Trust me, what can seem like a harmless mosquito bite, can cause swelling, itching, even a major systemic allergic reaction! “In the United States, mosquitoes can transmit diseases, like St. Louis encephalitis and West Nile virus. Ticks can transmit serious diseases like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Ehrlichiosis.” (1) So what to do? Do we avoid the great outdoors in fear of bugs, tics, bees, and other creepy crawlers…..of course not! Just remember to use proper products for protection and everything will be fine.
HOW TO CHOOSE AN INSECT REPELLENT: According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, keep the following factors in mind when choosing the correct insect repellent:
1. WHICH INSECT – Common insects are mosquitoes and ticks, while all bug sprays aim to protect against mosquito bites, not all protect against ticks.
2. LENGTH OF TIME YOU NEED PROTECTION – keep in mind, how long you will be doing a certain activity. Different bug sprays have different length of time that they work for, just because one works for a shorter amount of time, it doesn’t mean that it is worse than the one that works longer, it means that is has to be reapplied more often to maintain proper protection.
3. ACTIVE INGREDIENT LISTED ON THE PRODUCT LABEL– DEET is a common chemical ingredient, it is meant to keep insects away, not kill them. Bug repellents can contain varying percentage of DEET. After performing studies, the Environmental Protection concluded that, “as long as consumers follow label directions and take proper precautions, insect repellents containing DEET do not present a health concern. Human exposure is expected to be brief, and long-term exposure is not expected. Based on extensive toxicity testing, the Agency believes that the normal use of DEET does not present a health concern to the general population.” (2) These recommendations to not apply to infants, and are stricter for children, consult your physician or pharmacist!! If an allergic reaction occurs to DEET, discontinue using the product, wash the skin area with water, and contact the Poison control Center, your physician or pharmacist. The reason this chemical is used, it has a very good results in fighting off mosquitoes and ticks, helping to prevent potential serious complications of bites and diseases. If misused, DEET can produce negative side effects as well.
4. PERCENTAGE OF ACTIVE INGREDIENT LISTED ON THE PRODUCT LABEL– when reading the details of the label, look for the EPA registration number, which means “insect repellents active ingredients have been reviewed and approved for human safety and effectiveness when applied according to instructions on the label.” (3) “When used as directed, products containing between 10% to 30% DEET have been found by the American Academy of Pediatrics to be safe to use on children, as well as adults, but recommends that DEET not be used on infants less than two months old.” (4) Of Course using DEET products in general is a point of controversy! The Organization Health Canada, “barred the sale of insect repellents for human use that contained more than 30% DEET in a 2002 re-evaluation. The agency recommended that DEET-based products be used on children between the ages of 2 and 12 only if the concentration of DEET is 10% or less and that repellents be applied no more than 3 times a day, children under 2 should not receive more than 1 application of repellent in a day and DEET-based products of any concentration should not be used on infants under 6 months.” (4)
WHAT IF I DON’T WANT TO USE DEET/ NO CHEMICALS FOR ME/ WHAT TO DO: You can purchase natural bug sprays with ingredients such as Wellness Mama Bug spray! You can EVEN buy the ingredients at Kedvon Pharmacy and make your own, for recipes go to wellnessmama.com (5).
Essential oils: choose from Citronella, Clove, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Cajeput, Eucalyptus, Cedar, Catnip, Lavender, Mint
Dried herbs: peppermint, spearmint, citronella, lemongrass, catnip, lavender,
Natural Witch Hazel
Use all Insect Repellents/ DEET Products with caution and follow these directions on the product labeling:
Read and follow all directions and precautions on this product label.
Do not apply over cuts, wounds, or irritated skin.
Do not apply to hands or near eyes and mouth of young children.
Do not allow young children to apply this product.
Use just enough repellent to cover exposed skin and/or clothing.
Do not use under clothing.
Avoid over-application of this product.
After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water.
Wash treated clothing before wearing it again.
Use of this product may cause skin reactions in rare cases. The following additional statements will appear on the labels of all aerosol and pump spray formulation labels:
Do not spray in enclosed areas.
To apply to face, spray on hands first and then rub on face. Do not spray directly onto face.