Do you have insect or mosquito repellent in your bag? If not, why? Living in a tropical country has its perks – the sun shines most of the time, and kids can enjoy loads of outdoor fun throughout the year. But being out also means that we have to deal with nature’s little critters – insects, and mosquitoes, and hence, dengue. Here’s what you need to know about keeping your child safe.


Dr Edwin Chng, Medical Director, Parkway Shenton, advises us to:

  • Avoid outdoor exposure, especially where mosquitoes are potentially present, such as at gardens and parks.
  • Stay in well-screened or air-conditioned rooms.
  • When outdoors, wear clothing that reduces the amount of exposed skin, such as long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks.

Dr Wendy Sinnathamby, a paediatrician at Kids Clinic @ Mt Alvernia suggests:

  • Tucking shirts into pants, and pants into socks to cover gaps
  • Using closed shoes and wide-brimmed hats
  • Wearing light-coloured clothing
  • Avoiding sweet-smelling soaps, lotions, and shampoos.

“Teach your child to avoid playing near areas that attract flying insects, such as near stagnant pools of water, flowerbeds, and garbage cans,” she adds.

(See also: Dengue Fever in Singapore: Traditional remedies for Treatment)

How to Apply Insect and Mosquito Repellent

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If your infant is too young to use insect and mosquito repellent, place mosquito netting over their strollers and baby carriers, Dr Sinnathamby advises.

How to apply repellent properly:

  • Apply to exposed skin, clothing or both, but not under clothing.
  • Use just enough repellent to lightly cover the skin. Do not saturate.
  • For the face, apply a thin layer by dispensing repellent onto the palms, rubbing hands together, and then applying.
  • Do not apply on your child’s hands if your child is young. They tend to rub their faces and the repellent will inevitably be rubbed into their eyes. Ouch!
  • Do not apply over cuts, wounds, or inflamed, irritated skin such as skin with eczema.
  • Using both sunscreen and repellent? Apply sunscreen first.
  • Use soap and water to wash areas that have repellent once it is no longer needed.
  • Do not let children handle repellent on their own. It should be applied for them by adults.

Choosing Insect or Mosquito Repellent for your Child

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✔︎ Look for DEET as the active ingredient: In concentrations from 10% to 30% it is considered safe for use in children more than two months of age, according to current guidelines by the American Associations of Paediatrics.

✔︎ Check the percentage of DEET: The effectiveness of your mosquito repellent is not dependant on the percentage of DEET. However, a higher percentage gives longer duration of protection. Broadly speaking 10% DEET is thought to provide two hours’ protection whilst 30% DEET is thought to provide up to five hours’ protection.

✔︎ Other ingredients are okay too: Some people prefer a DEET-free repellent. Look for Picardin (usually labelled by its chemical name KBR 3023) and Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, a plant-based repellent that gives the same duration of protection as 10% DEET. This is suitable for children over three years of age.

Things to Be Aware of

✔︎ None for under two month old babies: All repellents should NOT be used on children below two months old.

✔︎ Efficacy of other agents: Citronella, botanical oils, vitamin supplements, and herbal preparations may be less effective, says Dr Chng. Similarly, electronic devices and bracelets/wristbands impregnated with repellents are generally not effective at all, he adds.

✔︎ Wash when home: “Upon returning home, wash your child’s skin with soap and water to remove repellent. Also, wash the clothes before wearing again,” says Dr Sinnathamby.

✔︎ Do not combine: Avoid using products that combine DEET with sunscreen as the sun protection factor becomes less effective when combined with DEET. “Reapplying this type of sunscreen often results in excessive exposure to DEET,” she adds.

Which Insect and Mosquito Repellent is Best for your Child?

👉 Ceradan® Ceramoz® Mosquito Repellent Cream

This hypoallergenic repellent cream has 10% DEET and is suitable for all skin types, even those with eczema-prone or sensitive skin. It contains ceramide, an essential lipid in the skin barrier, providing a moisturising effect as it protects. $16.50 (50g), at selected Guardian outlets and hospital retail pharmacies

👉 OFF! Active Sweat Resistant Insect Repellent

Formulated with 15% DEET, this provides up to five hours of protection against mosquitoes. This spray is sweat-resistant, and has a long-lasting effect. You can also use it on fabrics like cotton, wool, and nylon. $9.20, from Watsons and Guardian stores

👉 Moz Away Long Hour Protection

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This uses Picaridin (19.2%) and is clinically proven to provide protection against mosquitoes for up to nine hours. It is suitable for use on babies as young as two months. Plus, it has a lovely kiwi-fruit fragrance. $12.10, from Guardian stores

👉 Rid Insect Repellent Kids + Antiseptic

This special formula with 7% DEET is for kids over 12 months old. It has an antiseptic element which reduces inflammation, and helps to prevent infection caused by insect bites. The roll-on means hands stay clean and free from stickiness during application. Available at the International Medical Clinic

👉 Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent

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With 20% Picaridin, this is suitable for use by the whole family and on kids as young as six months. It’s safe for pregnant women as well. The non-greasy formula offers all-day protection and has a pleasant citrus odour. $13.90, from Lazada and Shopee

Insect and Mosquito Repellents which use Natural Ingredients:

Try these if you prefer to not to put chemicals on your little one’s skin.

👉Young Living Insect Repellent

This plant-based product is made up of pure sesame oil and a carefully-selected blend of essential oils traditionally used for their bug-repellent properties. It also has vitamin E, and can be used on children aged six months and above. Dilute for babies below six months. $85.53, from Young Living Singapore

👉 Cherub Rubs Scatterbugs – Natural and Organic Insect Repellent for Newborns

Scatterbugs is 100% natural and organic, and suitable for everyone, from newborns to adults and pregnant women. It’s also suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin, and can be used on the body and face. This aloe vera-based product contains lemon eucalyptus oil, which is a gentler alternative to citronella oil. $23.70, from My Health Scoop

👉 Tiger Balm Mosquito Repellent Spray

This plant-based repellent is safe for kids, and offers hours of protection when used on both skin and clothes. The aerosol spray allows for even coating and the non-greasy formula is a plus. $7.60, from Watsons; $7.90 from Guardian.

👉 Babyganics Natural Insect Repellent

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Made from a blend of plant and essential oils (Citronella, Peppermint, Rosemary, Lemongrass & Geranium), the scent is pungent to mosquitoes but keeps your baby free from insect bites. $12.90, from Watsons

👉 California Baby Natural Bug Blend Bug Repellent Spray

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Safe for use on babies over six months, this spray is made from pure essential oils of citronella, lemongrass and cedar that smell great to us, but repel insects. This non-toxic alternative is safe for head-to-toe use. $34.90 at Pupsik Studio

Prices accurate at time of publishing.

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