Sun And Bug Protection

Summer is here and it is time to think about protecting our children from the sun and insects. Many parents wonder what the recommendations are for sunscreen and bug spray for different ages. The American Academy of Pediatrics has published guidelines for the use of both of these products in children.

Sun protection:
Sunscreen should be:
Broad spectrum sunscreen (UVA and UVB protection).
SPF 15 or greater

Infants less than 6 months of age:
~ It is best to keep these children out of direct sun exposure. This includes keeping them in shaded areas and using cool clothing that protects from the sun including a hat.
~ If you are unable to keep these infants out of direct sun exposure, sunscreen may be used sparingly on exposed parts of the body such as the face or hands.

Infants and children over 6 months of age:
~ Apply sunscreen to all exposed areas of the body, being careful around the eyes.
~ Apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going outside.
~ Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours if sun exposure continues.
~ All children should wear sunglasses with at least 99% UV protection.

Insect repellent:
~No insect repellent should be used for children less than 2 months of age.
~In children over 2 months of age, DEET containing insect repellents can be used.
~ Do not apply near the mouth or eyes or on the hands of young children. Do not spray directly onto the face, instead, spray onto your hands and then pat or rub onto the face.
~ The DEET content of these sprays should be no more than 30% for children. The length of effectiveness of an insect repellent is dependent upon the DEET content with 10% DEET being effective for about 2 hours and 24% for about 5 hours. There is no added benefit to great than 30% DEET products. Choose the lowest concentration of DEET for your children which will be effective for the amount of time they are going to be out.
~ Wash childrens’ skin with soap and water when returning inside.
~ Do not apply DEET containing insect repellant to children more than once per day.

Insect repellents made from other products are generally less effective. Some of the available products are made from or with: citronella, cedar, eucalyptus and soy. These usually last more than 2 hours. They should also not be used on infants under 2 months of age.  Do not use combination sunscreen/bug spray products. They are less effective and sunscreen can not be used as often as necessary.  Following these guidelines for sun protection and insect repellents will help you and your children to have an active, safe summer.

For more information on sun and insect protection, contact Safe Kids Grand Forks at Altru Health System is proud to serve as the lead agency for Safe Kids Grand Forks.

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