Insects can potentially carry serious diseases, so protecting yourself against bites is important. People use insect repellent to prevent bug bites, which cause uncomfortable irritation and itching. Bug spray keeps insects and mosquitoes away, but is it safe to use?
Most bug sprays on the market contain chemicals and work because they smell and taste bad to insects. Spraying yourself with chemicals doesn’t sound like the safest thing to do, but bug spray is not considered harmful. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) even recommends bug spray as a safe and effective way to prevent bug bites.
Bug spray is safe to use on kids three years and older, and adults. Follow these tips to safely apply insect repellent before your next outdoor adventure:
- Only apply bug spray outside, never inside or in enclosed areas
- Don’t apply bug spray on irritated skin, cuts, or wounds
- Don’t use too much, use it sparingly
- Never spray insect repellent directly on your face. Spray on your hands first and then apply to the face
- Use only on bare, exposed skin, don’t use underneath clothing.
- Don’t spray onto kids hands. They are likely to touch their eyes or mouth and this can cause irritation
- Once you return inside, wash off the bug spray with soap and water
- Only apply once per day
If you are looking for alternatives to bug sprays, try a repellent wristband. These mosquito bracelets contain similar ingredients to bug spray but don’t need to be applied. You simply wear it on your wrist and the scent repels insects. However, it won’t provide full body protection. Wristbands are an easy way to protect kids and you can find them in grocery or hardware stores.
Essential oils like citronella, lemongrass, geranium, lavender, cedar, and peppermint are natural bug repellents. They are not as strong as bug spray, so you may need to reapply often. Other ways to prevent bug bites include using unscented soap and laundry detergent, and wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outside.
Whatever method you choose to keep the bugs away, always remember to follow the instructions on the bottle or packaging.