Written by Dr. Chetan Ginigeri
Mosquitoes and other insects breed on the compiled dirt and stagnant waters around us. They can invade and bring infections at any time of the day. Mosquitoes carry many diseases like dengue, chikungunya, malaria, and other types of dangerous fevers. Though there are treatments for such diseases, it is very important to prevent them if you have an infant in your house.
Several remedies are available these days to safeguard your baby and help them stay safe from mosquito bites and the unwanted diseases they carry. We discuss the safe and unsafe mosquito repellents for infants and a few tips to keep your little ones safe.
In This Article
Any substance that can repel mosquitoes is called a mosquito repellent. Most mosquito repellents are made of synthetic chemicals which act as insecticides. These chemicals work towards the mosquitoes with their volatile nature.
There are several different types of mosquito repellents available in the market.
These are commonly available and among the most used mosquito repellents in many households. They contain insect-repelling chemicals which are called insecticides. Plug-in mosquito repellents are not safe for a baby; inhalation may cause or aggravate breathing issues. Plug-in mosquito repellents contain a liquefied chemical mixture with an organic compound called transfluthrin which acts as an insecticide.
A mosquito coil is a spiral-shaped mosquito repellent that acts effectively in killing mosquitoes. Such coils are mainly made of Pyrethrum, a natural extract from a plant called chrysanthemum. Pyrethrum has been considered an effective insecticide. Mosquito coils are supposed to be attached to a metal stand while in use. These can be hazardous if left unattended and in case of any accidental contact with a cloth or a paper. Keep your infant at a very safe distance while using the mosquito coils. It is not recommended to use a mosquito coil for a very long time unattended. Usage of mosquito coils in a closed area is not recommended.
These are another solid form of mosquito repellents that contain extracts of pyrethrum which acts as an insect repellent. Mosquito mats are strong in fragrance and contain volatile chemicals that are activated with electricity.
Mosquito repellent sprays are pungent in fragrance and are made up of almost the same chemical extracts which act as insecticides. These can cause allergies and breathing issues. Long exposures to these sprays and frequent usage can lead to aggravated breathing problems. These are not safe to use in the presence of infants.
However, there are baby-safe mosquito repellents available in the market. These are specially made for infants with all the necessary natural ingredients that act as mosquito repellents.
There are different types of mosquito repellents available for babies and they are especially safe for your little one. However, it is important to note that mosquito repellents should only be used for babies who are above 6 months.
These kinds of mosquito repellent sprays can be safely used for infants. They contain an organic compound called DEET (N, N Diethyl-3-methyl-Benzamide) or (N, N, Diethyl-meta-toluamide) which is an effective mosquito repellent and safe to use. Do not use these sprays on newborn babies who are below 6 months. Repellents containing less than 10% of DEET are said to be safe for babies above 6 months.
Baby-safe mosquito repellent patches are widely available these days. They contain natural mosquito repellents such as citronella oil, eucalyptus oil, lemongrass extracts, rosemary, and other essential oils. Such patches are safe for babies and cannot cause any side effects. However, it is very important to ensure that your baby is not allergic to these natural fragrances.
Baby safe mosquito repellent creams also contain natural ingredients. A combination of eucalyptus oil, citronella oil and peppermint oil helps the baby stay away from the dangerous diseases carried by mosquitoes. Take a good amount of cream and apply it to the parts of the body that are not covered by clothing. It is important to remember that even these creams are only applicable to babies who are above 6 months old. Reapply these creams whenever necessary.
It is not safe to use mosquito repellents with infants around. The chemicals present in these kinds of mosquito repellents are highly volatile and can cause problems like skin irritation, burning eyes, and increased breathing issues. Never switch on the liquid vaporizers, mosquito coils, and plug-in mosquito repellent mats with the baby inside the room. Make sure to use them first and then ventilate the room. This way you will help your baby avoid inhaling those pungent fumes. Bring your baby in after ventilating the room well. Make sure there are no mosquito coils left unattended. Unattended mosquito coils can prove to be hazardous and can lead to fire accidents.
Do not keep any kind of mosquito coils or mats on the floor. Reaching for them and playing with them can be extremely harmful to your baby. Accidental ingestion of these repellents is very dangerous. Avoid using sprays in front of your baby. The strong fragrance can make them choke and create breathing issues. Even if you are using a baby mosquito repellent spray, do not directly spray it on your baby. First, spray it on your hands and then gently apply it to the body parts which are not covered. Keep an eye on your little one after the application. Reapply whenever needed.
Do not use any kind of mosquito repellent for infants who are below 6 months old. It is better to cover them with light cotton clothing from top to bottom. Onesies are the best option to keep your baby protected and save them from mosquito and insect bites. Mosquitoes are less attracted to light-colored clothing. You can also cover their hands and legs with mittens and socks to keep them protected.
Insect bites and mosquito bites can cause unwanted health issues for infants. Generally, a mosquito bite causes itching and irritation on the adult skin. But, it can cause a more intense wound to the skin of an infant. A mosquito bite can turn into swelling and can start irritating the baby by giving pain and soreness. Mosquitoes and insects can also carry bacteria and viruses. These kinds of mosquito bites can cause serious diseases like malaria, dengue, and chikungunya. Since the infant’s immune system is still in the developing stage, they are more prone to skin infections and mosquito-borne diseases. That is why it is very important to keep babies away from mosquito bites and insect bites.
Using insect and mosquito repellents can keep the baby away from some dreadful mosquito bites. It is always better to carry baby-safe mosquito repellent wherever you travel. Check the composition carefully before buying. DEET containing mosquito repellents are effective and safe for infants above 6 months. Although, it is not recommended to use DEET containing mosquito repellents very often in high concentrations. Be careful with some types of mosquito repellents that claim to be natural, but may contain chemicals. Chemicals and their extracts are not safe for baby skin.
Study says that mosquito repellents work by blocking the sense receptors of the antenna in mosquitoes. Mosquitoes attack based on body temperature, sweat, and smell. Mosquito repellents, as they contain volatile organic compounds, start to evaporate after application. The substances that evaporate tend to repel mosquitoes and insects by blocking their sense of smell. This mechanism keeps mosquitoes away from attacking people.
However, the application of a mosquito repellent containing only 10% of DEET is safe for babies older than 6 months. Higher the percentage of DEET longer the duration of its power. As some people do not prefer chemicals on their baby’s skin, there are essential oils like lemon eucalyptus oil, citronella oil. These may be less effective than DEET-containing mosquito repellents. But, using these types of natural essential oils reduces the risks of skin irritation in babies.
Numerous mosquito repellents are made safe especially for babies. It is a combined solution of citronella oil, peppermint oil, and eucalyptus oil with aloe vera gel. Naturally made and certified plant-based mosquito repellents are very much safe for infants. Applying them on the uncovered and exposed parts like hands and feet will be effective. Naturally-made mosquito repellents do not harm the skin of the infant.
However, a study says that 10% DEET (very less concentration) containing mosquito repellents are fine and safe to use on babies who are above 6 months old. They will evaporate and thus there will be a need to reapply the repellant accordingly. Reapply the cream if you take the baby outdoors for a longer time (more than two hours).
If you do not prefer to use any chemical repellent on your baby, you can follow certain tips.
All the above tips are useful but may not be so effective. Mosquitoes are so small and tend to escape even with a small space left. Keeping the surroundings and the house clean plays a very important role in avoiding mosquitoes and insects entering the house.
Most of the baby-safe mosquito repellents contain natural essential oils. These oils can prevent mosquito and insect bites. While buying a mosquito repellent for your infant
Mosquito and insect bites can be painful for babies. Most mosquito bites do not cause any harm except for creating redness and slight swelling at the area of attack. Mosquito bites look like small red dots with a white dot in the center of them. Some of the bites can be dangerous and cause diseases like malaria, dengue, and chikungunya. It is important to check for any serious reaction before treating your baby for insect bites. Some babies do not react to mosquito bites while some cry inconsolably.
Call the Doctor if Your Baby
Though it is impossible to always protect your baby from insect bites. Preventing them can help you avoid them to an extent.
Baby safe insect repellents should contain natural and plant-based extracts. Avoid chemical-based insect repellents for your infant.
Insects and mosquitoes are everywhere. It is important to protect your baby from unwanted and painful mosquito bites. Some quick and thoughtful actions can help you safeguard your baby. Understanding the difference between chemical-based mosquito repellent and naturally manufactured repellents can help you select the best for your baby. Although it is impossible to protect them from every insect bite. Taking necessary actions to prevent mosquitoes from entering the home can help your baby stay away from diseases.
No, electric mosquito repellents contain chemical ingredients. Once switched on, these start to evaporate by releasing harmful chemicals. Inhaling chemicals is not safe for babies.
Mosquito repellents which are made with natural extracts are safe for babies. Essential oils like peppermint oil, citronella oil, and eucalyptus oils are used in baby-safe mosquito repellents.
A study says that mosquito repellents that contain less than 10% DEET are safe for babies above 6 months.
Dr Chetan Ginigeri is an experienced Pediatric Intensivist with national and international training. With 15 years of experience, he is one among very few Intensivists in India trained to take care of children who need/had organ transplants. He has been responsible for coordinating the Pediatric Organ Transplant program.Read more.
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