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Best Mosquito Repellents for Kids;
Christopher Van Tilburg
Professional Wilderness Expert
DEET, short for the chemical diethyl meta toluamide, is the time-tested insect repellent we've use for years. I remember spraying on jungle juice as a kid hunting and fishing. Bens 30% formulation is the max concentration the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends for kids. This is just right for a day hike, a few hours on the river, or a seaside campfire. It comes in a six-ounce bottle which is enough for a long weekend for a family. For backpack overnights, when space is a premium, consider a more portable 1.25-ounce bottle.
Natrapel uses picaridin, a chemical used for years in Europe, which is now approved by the CDC, and reported to be just as affective as DEET. For those who have concerns about the potential toxicity of DEET, this is a great alternative. Natrapel comes in an eight-hour formula with twenty percent picaridin. We experimented on our last trip, using both Deet and picaridin, one on each arm: both warded off Anopheles with success. The Natrapel comes in a non-greasy lotion, which is easy to apply on kids and probably lasts longer than some sprays.
Natrapel Wipes use the same twenty percent formulation of picaridin found in the eight-hour lotion. But the wipes are super handy: tuck one in your passport case, camera bag, or backpack. When you least expect it, you may need a quick wipe down of all the kids: an early morning camp breakfast or an evening sunset stroll on the waterfront. If you want DEET instead of picaridin, Bens 30 comes in wipes, too.
The best prevention is covering up and using chemical repellents. These pants are treated with premetrin, a CDC-approved chemical that is derived from the chrysanthemum plant. It repels ticks, mosquitoes, flies, and chiggers. It's not for use on skin, so the fabric is chemically impregnated at the factory. This is a great option for traveling overseas, or for weeklong camping trips because you only need to lather up your kids exposed skin, not their entire legs. The pants are quick drying nylon and the legs zip off to make shorts for summer. As a bonus, they provide up to 30 UPF sun protection. When you get home, toss them in the washing machine: the repellent lasts 25 washings.
Made from lightweight, comfy cotton, the Buzz Off Long Sleeve Tee has the same permethrin repellent as the Buzz off pants. The tee comes in gray for boys, light sky for girls. Match them with Capris for girls and Sporty Pant for boys for a complete outfit of insect protection. They won't even know they have mosquito-proof clothes on since they are so stylish. When you get home, toss in the wash; the repellent stays on for 25 washing. As an added bonus, the tee also provides some sun protection.
Permethrin is a chemical that is designed for clothing, the same ingredient in Buzz Off clothing. It's a derivative of the chrysanthemum plant approved by the CDE to ward off skeeters, ticks, chiggers, and flies. This 24-ounce bottle will coat an entire family's camp or travel clothing. Best of all, it lasts for two dozen washings so you can use the same clothes all summer without reapplying the spray. Some people use the spray for their dog and tent as well, for added protection.
Of the three insect repellents approved for applying on skin by the CDC (DEET and picardin are two), oil of lemon eucalyptus is a plant-based oil that derived from the Australian native plant Eucalyptus Citriodora. Don't worry: it is not greasy oil, but a lotion. It comes in a four-ounce pump spray so it's compact to stuff in a daypack and easy to squirt on kids. It's effective up to six hours, but has less of a track record compared to Deet or picardin. It used to be hard to find, but now many outdoor stores carry it.
The Sun Bucket is a fun hat for kids, and inexpensive to boot. But it also happens to be treated with permethrin to wards off mosquitoes. So parents love it. It's hard to get mosquito repellent coated all over the face and neck so the hat makes life easier. It has a terry cloth sweatband for comfort and a cinch cord to secure it for canoeing or hiking. The permethrin is good for 25 washings. The hat blocks the sun's rays too: it's rated at 30 UPF.
The ExOfficio bandana is a great multipurpose article. Kids can wear it as a scarf, or around neck, to keep skeeters at bay. It's inexpensive, comes in cool colorful patterns, and the permethrin lasts 70 washings. (ExOfficio uses permethrin in Buzz Off kids socks also). Get a bandana for every member of the family, even the dog.
A long sleeve cotton t-shirt is a staple for school or play. Although it doesn't work as well as tightly woven mosquito repellent clothing, which is treated with premetrin, a long sleeve cotton tee is a good start. I make sure my kids grab a long sleeve cotton tee for a quick night camping or an evening at the local waterfront park. Cotton tees are inexpensive, ubiquitous, and easy to wash. They do a pretty good job at warding off most mosquitoes, provided the bugs are not out in full force.
Went to Costa Rica with Bens 30 Eco-Spray worked great and felt good that we were not covering ourselves with the other toxic products
I love the Natrapel 8-hour wipes, I find it's provides a more thorough application
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