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Sweet Summertime: How to Avoid and Treat Pesky Mosquito Bites

Updated: Jul 12, 2020

Ahh... Sweet, sweet summertime. When I think of summer, the top things that come to mind are swimming, barbeques, enjoying the great outdoors, and itchy mosquito bites!

If you are like me, those pesky creatures find you!!

Let's Start With What DOES NOT Work

The shelves are full of products claiming to work against these pesky bugs, but many do not work.

  • Believe or not, citronella candles are not great at repelling mosquitos

  • Vitamin B1 skin patches also do not live up to their promises

  • Mosquito-repellant bracelets- great idea, but just doesn't cut it

  • Ultrasonic devices- no proof that these work either

  • Garlic- you may smell like a fine Italian dinner, but it won't help repel mosquitos

What DOES Work?

There was a study in 2015 that tested 8 different mosquito repellents, 2 different perfumes, and a vitamin B patch. The results are as follows:

  • DEET containing products were most effective, but there was 1 natural product (DEET-free) that was also quite effective (EcoSmart Organic Insect Repellent). (See chart below. Credit: NPR)

  • Oddly enough, Victoria's Secret Bombshell perfume also did well at repelling mosquitos in the study (tested at a high concentration, however)

What Else Works?

  • In 2017, a study also showed that OFF! Clip-on (active ingredient: metofluthrin) worked equally as well as DEET containing products

  • For more of a natural route, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or Para-methane-diol (PMD) is also effective at repelling mosquitos (NOT advised for children under 3 years of age)

  • Picaridin-actually is more effective than DEET-containing products but is newer and long term effects have not been studied

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends products containing 2-undecanone, which is effective at repelling mosquitos as well as ticks

  • Lastly, the CDC suggests a product containing IR3535, which has less odor but is not as effective

Why is it Important to use Insect Repellent Anyway?

  • Preventing mosquito-borne infections such as Dengue virus, Chikungunya virus, Zika virus, Malaria, and West Nile virus is very important. These infections can make you extremely sick and in some cases may lead to death

What Do I Do to Stop the Itching?!

  • Cool compress or ice

  • Applying an over-the-counter anti-itch cream (read instructions carefully and call your provider with questions)

  • Using an antihistamine cream (read instructions carefully and call your provider with questions)

Other Important Key Points

  • Per The American Academy of Pediatrics, products containing 10%-30% DEET are safe to use on children 2 months and older

  • Many insect repellants come in the form of aerosolized sprays. I recommend NOT spraying directly on your children, instead, spray your hands and rub on your child's body

  • Avoid putting insect repellant on your younger child's hands (think about how often you see your child rub his/her eyes, nose, or have their hands in their mouth)

  • After outdoor playtime is over, take a shower or bath

  • Remove any standing water frequently from baby pools, flowerpots, buckets, trashcans, etc.

  • Avoid using scented soaps, lotions, and perfumes, which can attract mosquitos

  • When possible, wear long sleeves, long pants, and high socks for extra protection

  • Use a cover or mosquito netting over the stroller or baby carrier (especially for children too young for insect repellent)

  • Call your child's medical provider to be evaluated if he or she develops signs of an infection (i.e., fever, chills, drainage from the area, increased or spreading redness, red streaking, pain, swollen lymph nodes, etc.)

Until next time,



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