Just when you thought it was a good time to go on holiday, you remembered that not only the beautiful days are back but with them the mosquitoes ! Number one enemies of the evenings at the edge of the water, long strolls at sunset and great journeys in the tropics, they are relentless, biting you day and night. So how can you get away from these pesky critters that not only irritate hugely but can also transmit diseases that are sometimes dangerous for the health of little ones ? There is no magic pill but you can take preventative measures to protect your family from mosquitoes.
First and foremost, there are a variety of simple and effective methods to fight mosquitoes and avoid getting bitten. Mosquito nets, long, loose clothes, skin repellents, essential oils. Follow the guide!
When traveling, consider putting mosquito nets in your luggage. At night, they will be your best allies against small insects. Long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets are available in pharmacies or specialty shops such as A.S Adventure for around €30. The Insect Screen net impregnated with permethrin, a powerful and nontoxic insecticide, is ideal for protecting baby’s sleep from small aggressors. This mosquito net is available online for €17.95. There are also impregnation kits for manual use, but keep in mind that this technique is not resistant to successive washes. Suspended above the bed of the little wolves or wrapped around baby’s cradle, the mosquito net must be properly installed so that no openings are left open for the unwanted to infiltrate. It is also appropriate to check that the little ones do not grab the mosquito net and risk tearing it.
An excellent stay in the tropics
The majority of kids-friendly Little Guest hotels in Africa, Asia and the paradise islands provide different types of mosquito protection for families. The luxurious Villa Sungai, nestled in the middle of the rice fields, on the South-west coast of Bali, has mosquito nets int the rooms.
The Villa Sungai room and its four-poster bed with a mosquito net
During the day, mosquito nets for strollers are incredibly practical. Some prams have tailor-made protection systems. There are also universal mosquito nets that adapt to all models. The Italian brand Chicco, specializing in early childhood, offers a mosquito repellent accessory to accompany your stroll rides at a fair price of € 9.90. When going for a walk, deny mosquitoes’ favoured sites : water points.
Also favour long, loose clothing to cover most your children’s bodies. Opt for light-coloured clothing because insects particularly like dark, shiny colors. They are also attracted to ultraviolet and fluorescent light, so best avoid them. Limit outdoor exposure as much as possible during times when mosquitoes tend to attack. Anopheles, which carry malaria, are more active at night while Aedes, also called tiger mosquitoes, hunt mainly at dawn and in the evening. All prefer shade to the sun. When you are indoors, be careful not to allow mosquitoes to join you. If you open a window, remember to turn off the light. These few preventive actions, strongly encouraged by pediatricians, will have a first immediate effect on the protection of your children.
A second aspect to consider is the use of skin repellents. Some precautions must nevertheless be taken and as choosing a good mosquito repellent can quickly become a real headache, we have listed some guidelines to help you in your research. « We must always keep in mind the risk/benefit balance, » says our pediatrician, « So we will not use artificial molecules if the pathological danger is not real. »
Before the age of 6 months, it is strongly discouraged to use anti-mosquito products in any form whatsoever. It is therefore important for the parents to be attentive to the baby and to implement the preventive measures listed above (mosquito nets, long clothes, etc.).
From 6 months, mosquito repellents can be used but always with vigilance because they contain harmful chemicals for the sensitive skin of the little ones. So choose lotions specified for baby, such as the protective oil Apad’pik from the Neobulle brand. This 100% natural anti-mosquito repellent has been welcomed by parents : opinions are very positive. A soft blend of apricot kernel, sunflower and lavender, lemon eucalyptus, geranium rosat and Douglas essential oils, it gently protects baby’s tender skin – in addition to feeling incredibly good. Its small size at the cost of €8.25 makes it the ideal travel partner.
For young people over 30 months of age, use mosquito repellent that is less concentrated in DEET (max of 30-per-cent) because even though this substance, which was put on the market by the American forces in the aftermath of the Second World War, proved its efficiency over the years, it has also demonstrated its toxic nature. Recommended by WHO in areas infested with malaria (mainly in Africa, Asia and America), this molecule is becoming more and more controversial. Indeed, lotions containing DEET can have irritating effects for fragile skin and can cause bad skin reactions. Thus, it is preferable not to apply the anti-mosquito directly on the skin of your child but to spray the product on his clothes by renewing the application every two hours. The applications must be made on dry skin, after any other product such as sunscreens, at a rate of 3 times a day maximum for children over 30 months and only once for the smallest of more than 6 months. Do not apply repellent to areas of irritated skin or sunburn and avoid combined product such as sunscreen and repellent combos. « Anti-mosquito sprays are to be avoided in children with asthma ,it’s a simple precautionary measure,” adds our expert. Finally, do not forget to wash your hands after each use and avoid taking baby against you when you are coated with mosquito repellent.
Let moderation be your guide
In general, it is recommended to limit as much as possible the use of skin repellents. It time to splash out on mosquito repellent when mosquitoes attack : in the morning, in the early evening and during the night. The geographical area of your destination also influences the degree of protection needed. Particular measures to avoid mosquito bites are emphasized to travelers in the regions at risk. The more you take off in the tropics, the more mosquitoes are aggressive and disease-carrying.
Oils, creams, lotions, sprays, wipes or bracelets, the range of products made available by brands which provide protection from mosquitoes is wild. Repellents have almost dethroned sun creams, queens of the rays, in terms of quantity. To help you make your choice, we have selected two flagship products of the summer.
100% organic, they contain no chemicals that are potentially toxic to children. Soaked with a repellent of vegetal origin from eucalyptus leaves enrichied with aloe vera, they protect and soothe the most delicate skin. This solution will suit the whole family, even babies as from 6 months. You can order the wipes on Mousticare for €5.90 the 12 wipes.
Trendy and innovative, Para’Kito impregnated bracelets combine elegance, comfort and efficiency. Worn around the wrist or at the ankle, the bracelet diffuses an active ingredient that helps to mask body odors and blurs the sensory tracks of mosquitoes. The released product is contained in a refillable pad attached under the protective nylon mesh of the bracelet to prevent direct contact with the child’s skin. The active substance is certainly not toxic, as it is composed of a blend of essential oils of cassia, rosemary, mint, geraniol and litsea cubeba. Effective during 15 days, the pad of the bracelet must then be replaced. It is possible to order refills (without the bracelet) via Newpharma ; count on €6.51 for two pieces. The brand Para’Kito offers a wide of products suitable for the whole family and an even wider choice of colorful and playful designed bracelets (€16,49).
Essential oils remain an excellent bulwark against blood-sucking insects. However, compared to other solutions, their effectiveness remains more limited in time : they are useful for only a few tens of minutes. They should therefore be used in addition to other measures. Soybean oil, which is certainly less powerful than DEET repellents, makes it nevertheless possible to keep the less aggressive little vampires at a distance. It can especially be used to protect babies under 6 months. Always favour the application of products on fabrics, clothes or strollers rather than directly on the baby’s skin. In the evening, before reading a story to your toddlers and leaving them in the arms of Morpheus, spread a few drops of lemongrass or eucalyptus in the room to make mosquitoes flee. It is better to use this technique than electric mosquito repellents, which contain chemicals that are considered toxic to humans and the environment.
If despite all your precautions, a bloodthirsty mosquito managed to sting your little one, don’t worry just too much. Insect bites are a nuisance, but aren’t usually cause for concern. Know that solutions can relieve bites and prevent possible diseases. First, disinfect the bite and apply a soothing cream of sweet almond or corticosteroids on the affected area to calm the itching. There are many formulas of creams so do not hesitate to ask your pharmacist for advice. In case of inflammation, put ice cubes wrapped in a towel or warm compresses soaked in Calendula oil, a plant known for its many virtues (healing, nourishing, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory). Diluted with water, baking soda, the powder with a thousand utilities, can help to ease any discomfort from painful bites temporarily.
Reactions (swelling, redness, etc.) often worry parents and are sometimes mistaken for allergies, which are actually very rare. Indeed, as our expert in pediatrics explains: « If allergic reactions to mug or bees bites are widespread, allergy to mosquitoes is almost non-existent! » Babies and young children are more sensitive to mosquito bites and respond more intensely than adults. The young tend to scratch improperly which can lead to a local infection : the skin swells, heats and turns red.
« If bitten near the ear, baby begins to look like Dumbo, it may be time to pay your doctor a visit. », the expert reassure us :« But, it’s rarely linked to an allergic reaction ». In case of infection, the doctor recommends the application of Fucibet. Used locally under medical prescription, this cream, composed of antibacterial fusidic acid and an anti-inflammatory substance, derived from cortisone, quickly fights bacteria and deeply heals the sting. If your child shows side effects such as nausea, fever, breathing difficulties, physical pain or headaches, take immediately contact with your pediatrician.
I go to the tropics with baby, what do I do?
To go further: because the well-being of newborns is vital, Little Guest selected for you the most beautiful luxury hotels with baby club.
Sources: Huffingtonpost, The Bump, Healthline, The New York Times
Audrey, 23 years old, journalist, Brussels