But since the whole incident instilled in me a phobia of ticks on my child, I asked him for recommendations on insect repellent, and he magically produced a wonderful handout on just such matters, and another one on sunscreen just for the heck of it. This, of course, makes me want to break into the office to seize handouts on every possible pediatric topic, like my possessing a sheet of recommendations and warnings will somehow scare away anything that could possibly harm my baby girl. While the handouts may not be that effective, I did learn a thing or two about the appropriate use of insect repellents, so consider this your Itty Bitty Hill public service announcement: my paraphrase (or better yet, my "precis," or an homage to Sarah Bayrd) of the American Academy of Pediatrics handout on bug spray:
- Usually bug bites are just annoying, but sometimes they can make your kid stupid-sick.
- Don't bother with the non-chemical means of repelling bugs from your kids. Most of them ain't gonna work. If you don't want to put chemicals on your kids, that's okay...but they're gonna get bit. I will admit that they say that repellents made from some essential oils do offer some protection but they are "much less effective repellents" and last less than 2 hours.
- DEET is no longer considered bad. In fact, it's your best defense. Just don't use a spray that is more than 30% DEET on your kids.
- DEET levels work kind of like SPF - the more DEET in the spray, the longer the protection lasts. To quote: "For example, products with amounts around 10% may repel pests for about 2 hours, while products with amounts of about 24% last an average of 5 hours." But once you go over 30%, there's no additional benefit, so no need to go overboard on the chemicals.
- Even though I just put DEET and SPF in the same bullet point (did it again now!), don't use products that contain both - the DEET makes the SPF less effective and you may end up overdosing on DEET because you're likely to reapply it more often.
- If you are particularly concerned about ticks, you can treat your kids' clothes with permethrin, which kills ticks on contact. Do not apply it to your kids' (or your) skin, just on their clothes, where it will last for several washings. I'm considering doing this to a few pairs of B's pants and her jackets. We don't like ticks 'round here, that's for damn sure.
- Something they recommend that I won't do: "Avoid dressing your child in clothing with bright colors or flowery prints because they seem to attract insects." Um, too bad.
- Don't use anything on babes younger than 2 months. And don't spray kids in the face. Spray your hands and then rub it in their face. But not in their eyes. 'Cause that's just mean.
- And I love this one: "Remember, children need and love to be outdoors." So now that we've made you paranoid, go play outside.
Speaking of being paranoid...some of you have asked how we're doing after the whole hospital adventure. I'll say that we are doing fine, for the most part, but I definitely think that Becca and I are a little jumpy still. (John Hill continues to be impervious to worry, though I think he's really just delegated it to me.) When we were listening to the president's speech on Libya on Monday and heard him say "hospital," Becca picked up on it and told me that we were going to the hospital. (Interestingly, she wasn't upset about it at all. Hospitals are just places you go every now and then. And sometimes you get free blankets there.) But she freaks out when I say that we need to do something quickly and says, "No tick! No tick!" because quick=tick to her ears. And I nearly had a panic attack after scheduling Becca's first date with a teenage babysitter as I immediately pictured everything that could go wrong. (Logically, I can tell you that the far likeliest scenario is that everything will be absolutely fine and that the next likeliest scenario is that something will happen but the babysitter, a very responsible high school senior, will handle it beautifully.) But I think the jumpiness is natural, so I'm trying to give myself grace about it. And I'm saying "fast" instead of "quick" around Becca. :)