Family health

Ask Dr. Dina: Are insect repellents with DEET safe for kids?

Paediatrician and mom of three Dr. Dina Kulik on how much DEET is safe to use on kids and yourself.

Photo: iStockphoto

Photo: iStockphoto

Are insect repellents with DEET safe for my child?
Using a product with DEET (diethyltoluamide) is the best way to prevent bites from insects, including ticks. The amount of DEET in a bug spray is listed as a percentage—the higher the percentage of DEET, the longer it will guard against bites. On children six months to two years old, you can use up to 10 percent DEET once a day. This should provide bite protection for up to four hours. Kids older than two can safely use 10 percent DEET up to three times a day, while teens and adults can use products with up to 30 percent. Hold off using DEET products if you’re pregnant and breastfeeding—more research is needed to determine its safety.

Dr. Dina Kulik is a paediatrician and emergency room doctor in Toronto and mom to three boys, who are five, three and 17 months. Send her your kids’ health questions at [email protected]

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