It can be confusing when looking for bug repellents that are safe for autistic children. Why are parents concerned about insect repellents, and how do you choose which product to use?
The Buzz About Deet
Deet is an active ingredient used in many bug repellents that may be a neurotoxin. Research has found that deet is toxic to the central nervous system in mammals an insects, which makes many parents leery about using the product. However, more research is necessary to determine if the chemical is toxic to humans.
Should parents continue to use insect repellents containing deet? Some say absolutely not, while others believe that the products are perfectly safe when used as directed. Since more studies are necessary to determine whether deet is safe for the human nervous system, some may argue that it isn't wise to gamble. Some things to consider when deciding whether to use deet-based products include:
- Putting hands and objects in mouth
- Licking skin
- Chews on clothing
- Prone to seizures
- Behavior changes after using deet in the past
Ingesting the chemical is serious, and parents may benefit from exploring options that are nontoxic when their children tend to put things in their mouths or tend to lick as a form of self-stimulatory behavior. Children prone to seizures have significant neurological problems and it may be best to use alternatives to deet-based bug repellents.
Find Bug Repellents that Are Safe for Autistic Children
Alternatives to deet run the gamut from herbal remedies to over the counter products. Some of the products may be less effective than deet, while others may be equally, if not more effective than deet is.
Vitamin B1 for Bugs
Vitamin B1 (thiamin) supplements can keep mosquitos at bay. Many parents consider B vitamins as an alternative treatment for autism, and with the added benefit of warding off mosquitos, the approach looks very appealing. Ideally, doses of B1 should come from foods like beans, asparagus, potatoes and oranges, but many kids on the spectrum may shy away from some of the foods.
If you are considering vitamin B1, talk to your child's pediatrician about the approach. It isn't nearly as protective as chemical insect repellants, but it can help.
Skin So Soft
Avon's Skin So Soft Bug Guard is an excellent alternative to deet-based products. It is important to note that this product does contain a pesticide called picaridin that has a low toxicity level, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.Parents who want to avoid using pesticides completely may want to consider using Skin So Soft original bath oil spray. The drawback of this product is its strong fragrance and oily feel. Some kids may find the scent distracting and overpowering.
Herbal Insect Repellents
Herbal bug repellents may not be suitable for all children and it is very important to discuss the following herbs with your child's pediatrician:
Choosing a Safe Insect Repellent
Insects can carry diseases, which makes their bites potentially harmful to a child's health. Children with compromised immune systems need every line of defense necessary to protect them from illness. Bug repellents offer relief from itchy bites that can wreak havoc on an autistic child's sensory processing, and they can protect them from illness.
Finding bug repellents that are safe for autistic children is an important matter. No matter which approach you choose, make sure to talk to your child's doctor or neurologist about your selection. If nothing is as appealing as deet is, please follow the Safety Precautions When Using DEET on Children from the American Academy of Pediatrics.