Mosquito Bite Protection and Treatment in Children | St. Louis Children's Hospital
How to Protect Toddlers Against Mosquitoes
Mosquito bites are a nuisance for your toddler. Not only do they often itch but they also can transmit illnesses such as West Nile disease and lead to skin infections if scratched. There are many ways to reduce your child's likelihood of having mosquito bites. Mosquito repellent, proper clothing, and good judgment about when and where to play all can help.
Implementing Protective Measures
Apply mosquito repellent.For young children between the ages of two months and three years, choose a repellent with DEET. Be careful that the product does not touch your toddler’s face or hands. First put the spray on your hands and then rub it on your child, or try a cream-based repellent. You do not need to use a large amount.Only apply the repellent to skin that is exposed. Under no circumstances should you apply bug block underneath a child’s clothes. Use warm water and soap to wash off repellent after your child is inside for the day/night.
- Products used on children should have no more than 30% DEET.
- Do not use DEET products on children under the age of two months.
- Do not spray repellent on any open wounds.
- With toddlers, do not use lemon eucalyptus oil for mosquito prevention.
- While it is important to wear both sunscreen and bug repellent,do notuse a product that combines the two. Combination sunscreen and bug-block should be avoided. Instead, apply sunscreen, then follow with repellent, following the manufacturer's guidelines for reapplication.
Dress toddlers in covering clothing.For summer days, dress your toddler in lightweight, light-colored clothing. Pair a long-sleeved shirt with long, lightweight pants. Socks and shoes plus wide-brimmed hats are good to wear as well.Breathable cottons and linens make fine choices. Not only will you protect your child from mosquitoes, but you also will be giving her sun protection.
- Do not dress your child so warmly that she becomes overheated. On hot days, opt for breathable, single layers of clothing.
- Clothing designed for sun protection and swimming also can be great options.
Use mosquito nets.If you are visiting a place with a large amount of mosquitoes, use mosquito netting on your child’s bed at night and during naptime. If you are taking him outside during dawn or dusk, or through the woods or a marshy area, put mosquito netting over his stroller. He will still be able to breathe but you will give him extra protection.
Treat clothing with permethrin.Use insect repellent with permethrin on your clothing. By doing so, you add another layer of protection. You can also buy pre-treated clothes at select sports stores.
- Do not spray repellents with permethrin directly on your skin.
Keep toddlers indoors during dawn and dusk.Although mosquitoes can bite at any time, they are particularly active in the early morning and early evening.If children are outdoors during this time, dress them in proper clothing and use insect repellent.
Creating Safe Living Spaces
Set up play areas in dry parts of your yard.Avoid putting a sandbox, children’s pool, or swing set in areas that are prone to having puddles or are near a marsh or pond. Instead, seek dry parts of your lawn. Although you might want partial shade from a tree for sun protection, strive to keep the play area within partial sunlight.
- Limit the time you allow your toddler to play outside during the hours of 10 am to four pm if you worry about sun exposure.
- Do not allow your toddlers to play underneath any decks. These areas tend to be damp and can house mosquitoes.
Change standing water weekly or more.Children’s wading pools and bird paths are common sources of standing water. Mosquitoes use stagnant water for breeding.Be sure to change water regularly.
- Do not leave old flower pots standing up in your yard. They will collect water.
- If you do not regularly use your child’s wading pool, use the water for watering flowers or the lawn. Try to use the water for other purposes rather than dumping it out.
Practice outdoor home maintenance.Mow your lawn regularly and cut any tall weeds. Remove any accumulated debris from your gutters. If you have a fire pit, be sure to remove any standing water.The same applies to tire swings. They are havens for mosquitoes.In general, try to keep your lawn level so that water does not pool in unwanted places.
- Mow the lawn regularly.
- Trim any tall weeds or grass.
Make sure toddler bedrooms have functioning screens.If the screens get holes, fix them immediately. Even small holes can let in many mosquitoes. Particularly during nighttime, mosquitoes are likely to use screen holes to find people to bite.
- Store mosquito repellent in a childproof area.
- Don't spray mosquito repellent in an enclosed area.
- If your child may be having an allergic reaction to an insect repellent with symptoms of a rash, wash off the area with soap and water and call your doctor or poison control center right away. Seek immediate medical attention if your child is having swelling of the face or body or any trouble breathing.
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