Q: After being outside all day and well into the evening, my kids come inside covered in mosquito bites! Should I be worried about these bites, and what can I do to prevent them?
A: In the middle of the summer, it's no surprise that the season's biggest pests are everywhere. Wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants can help minimize bites, but that can be almost impossible to do in the middle of July. Bug repellents with these ingredients can be particularly helpful:
DEET – This bug repellent chemical is the most effective and will last between two and five hours. While it comes in various concentrations, never use anything with a DEET concentration higher than 30 percent on a child.
Essential oils – Made from plants such as citronella, lemon or eucalyptus, essential oils work about as well as 10 percent DEET and last up to two hours. Parents should be careful, however, because essential oils can irritate skin.
Picaridin – This repellent lasts longer than DEET-three to eight hours-but it repels bugs at the same level seen with a 10 percent DEET concentration.
Permethrin – Never apply this directly onto the skin-only to clothing. This repellent kill ticks on contact. Parents should know that permethrin can stay on clothing even after multiple washes.
Mike Patrick, MD, is an emergency medicine physician at Nationwide Children's Hospital.