Sensory Smart Sunblock and Insect Repellent
Kids with sensory issues need to use insect repellent and sunblock to protect them from bug bites, the Zika virus spread by mosquitoes, and harmful UV rays. This year, parents need to decide whether to use an insect repellent with DEET as its active ingredient or a natural insect repellent. Our sensory kids can be sensitive to ingredients, smell, and texture, making it harder for us to choose what to use. To empower you in your decision making, let me draw your attention to: CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control) recommendations for insect repellents including DEET or lemon-eucalptus oil, to be used on children over age three. They say to apply repellent first and then sunscreen. Sunscreen has to be reapplied often, specially if your child has been in the water. Looking for a sunblock/sunblock your child over three can tolerate? Here are some tips from the CDC. Note that you should use SPF 15 or higher to block UVA and UVB rays. The EWG (Environmental Working Group) puts out a list of the safest sunscreens for kids each year. Some are sticks, some are lotions, and some are sprays. With sprays, you need to be careful that no one, including your child, accidentally breathes them in. Many of the sprays come in pump form now, including my sensory son's favorite, Babyganics (we use the stick combined with the spray).
Often, sensory kids better tolerate sticks that allow for deep pressure against the skin as you apply the sunscreen. But here's a hint: before applying a lotion (gloppy!), spray (cold and wet!), or stick (deeper pressure against the skin), you can try some deep pressure massage or gentle squeezing of limbs to ready the skin before application. Some kids like the use of a hand-held vibrator against their skin before applying sunscreen. Smells can matter too. If they detest the smell, let them sniff an essential oil they find calming before you use sunscreen or insect repellent on them. Looking for more sensory smart parenting tips? Check out the award-winning book Raising a Sensory Smart Child.