1. BUG SPRAY
DEET is the most commonly available insect repellent in the U.S. DEET products are available in different concentrations, ranging from 6 percent to 98 percent. It is generally accepted that the higher the concentration of DEET, the longer the duration of protection. Some studies have suggested that the duration of protection from DEET may plateau at a concentration of 50 percent. I would start with a lower concentration product depending on how long my exposure was planned to be.
Protection is influenced by differences among mosquito species; some are more aggressive than others. DEET effectiveness may also be compromised by high temperatures, amount of perspiration, humidity, wind speed and swimming.
DEET products may be used in children as young as 2 months of age, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Picaridin is an effective non-DEET insect repellent and may be found in products with varying concentrations from 7 percent to 20 percent. Again, the duration of protection increases with higher concentrations of picaridin.
Whether you're heading to the mountains to ski or the beach, you need sunscreen. Ultraviolet light is composed of both UVA and UVB rays. UVA causes phototoxicity and aging and UVB produces sunburns. They can both produce changes to DNA and cause skin cancer.
Sunscreens containing several ingredients which together are capable of absorbing both UVA and UVB rays are called broad spectrum and are preferred. Think of SPF really as "sunburn protection factor," as it really only refers to UVB protection.
To date, the FDA has not regulated a product's ability to protect from UVA rays, new guidelines may be forthcoming. I would look for a product that's labeled "broad spectrum" with a SPF of at least 15 (and at least 30 SPF for the face). Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapplied every 2-4 hours while you're in the sun. Remember, there are UV rays even on cloudy days.
If you need both bug and sun protection, apply sunscreen first and let it be absorbed, then apply insect repellent. Don't use a product that contains both, as you don't need to reapply bug spray like you do sunscreen.
(Dr. Sue Hubbard is a nationally known pediatrician and co-host of "The Kid's Doctor" radio show. Submit questions at http://www.kidsdr.com.)