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These 6 Kid-Safe Tick Repellents Will Save Your Outdoor Adventures

by Cat Bowen

I have a deep, abiding, somewhat irrational fear of ticks. They are the evil vampires of the insect world, with the additional risk of potentially transmitting disease. I tend to be a tad on the hyper-vigilant side when it comes to protecting my children from the nefarious, blood thieving Lyme givers, and I assume other parents are as well. The only problem is that bug repellent can be really harsh, and tricky to understand. With so many chemicals at play, choosing one to use is daunting. So I've compiled a list of six kid-safe products that repel ticks, because no one wants problematic parasites grubbing on their preschoolers.

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) noted that ticks are particularly insidious because some of them are so tiny that they're hard to see, especially if they're on the scalp or in a fold of skin. That's why they recommend avoiding areas with brush or tall grass, which is where ticks tend to lay in wait on their supper. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that if you or your children are going to be mucking about where ticks might reside, that you wear long sleeves, long pants, and a hat. The more surface area that's covered, the less likely that you are to be a part of the all-you-can-suck tick buffet. Barring that, both organizations advocate for the use of DEET at concentrations of 10 to 30 percent, with the proviso that it not be inhaled or sprayed directly on children's faces. Also, it should not be used in babies under 2 months of age.


Deep Woods Off

This was the official fragrance of summer during my childhood. At 25 percent DEET, this bad boy repels ticks pretty well, and while you need to be cautious and read the directions before you use it, this one hits all of the AAP's recommendations. Just be sure that when you're applying it to your child's face that you don't spray their faces directly, but rather spray your hands and then apply to their faces, avoiding their eyes, nose, and mouth.


Sawyer Permetherin

This does not go on the body. This is a treatment for clothing and gear that will be in tick-infested areas. This is also not for kids who tend to chew on their clothing. It lasts for six weeks or six washings, and the AAP noted that while this chemical kills ticks on contact, it should never hit the skin on its own.

It works really well on patio furniture and tents.


Deep Woods Off V

This is the wet spray, which does a really good job at not only protecting against mosquitos, chiggers, and ticks, and other bitey flying evil creatures, but it also doesn't evaporate as quickly if you're sweating. This is serious bug spray. It takes a while to dry, and the smell is not insignificant, but with the recent heat waves, this might be the spray for you.


Cutter BackWoods

This repellent also has 25 percent DEET, but this one is slightly less expensive, and the smell is just a tad different. If you aren't fans of Off! you might like this instead. It has a more citrusy-lemon scent, as opposed to the classic Off! fragrance.


Off! Non Aerosol

I am trying to reduce my reliance on all things aerosol, so this spritz is my repellant of choice. Made of recyclable plastic, the spritz bottle fits neatly in my purse or back pocket, ready to spray myself or my kids down at a moment's notice.

Bonus that this is also the Off! that seems to go on sale the most frequently from what I've seen. I've purchased it twice already this summer, and both times (once at Target, once at Home Depot) it was 25 percent off.


Ranger Ready

Several years ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began allowing the use of picaridin as a mosquito and tick repellent. Derived from pepper, this product might be more natural, but it's also spendy.