Guard Your Kids Against Bug Bites This Summer

Mosquitoes, ticks and fleas transmit diseases, so reach for insect repellant before sending them outdoors

Children love being outdoors during the summer, but they need to be protected from mosquitoes, ticks and fleas and the diseases they may carry, experts warn.

Ticks can transmit Lyme disease, fleas can transmit plague and mosquitoes can transmit West Nile virus and a number of other illnesses.

"During the summer months, it is critical that parents remember to protect their children from bugs by using proper insect repellent and avoiding areas with high insect populations," Dr. Mike Gittelman, co-director of the Comprehensive Children's Injury Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, said in a center news release.

He and the American Academy of Pediatrics offer the following tips for protecting children from mosquitoes, ticks and fleas.

Don't use scented soaps, perfumes or hair sprays on your child. Apply appropriate insect repellants. To combat ticks, use repellant that contains 20 percent DEET. Concentrations of DEET vary widely between products, so read the label before you buy a repellent, the experts say.

DEET products can also be used to protect against mosquitoes, they noted. Other options include picaridan, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Another option is to treat clothing with permethrin or buy clothing pre-treated with permethrin.

Do not use DEET products on children younger than 2 months of age, according to the news release.

Keep children away from areas where insects are most likely to be found, such as stagnant pools of water, uncovered foods, and gardens where flowers are in bloom, the experts suggest. Ticks are typically found in leaf litter and high grasses.

After children come inside, have them shower as soon as possible and check them for ticks. In addition, wash and tumble dry clothing and check pets for ticks.

Parents are urged to seek medical advice if a child develops a rash, fever, body aches, fatigue, headache, stiff neck or disorientation within one to three weeks after an insect bite.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about insect bites and stings.

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