Is Bug Spray Safe?

If you have bugs on or around you -- whether it’s ants looking for a picnic to crash or mosquitoes wanting to go all Twilight on you -- can you still whip out a can of bug spray to get rid of them? How unsafe is basic insect repellent, anyhow?

bug spray while pregnant

First, you have to remember that many bug bites are more than simple annoyances: Insects can carry a variety of diseases, including West Nile Virus, Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. On the other hand, it's also known that most pesticides are chemical poisons -- and the less exposure you have, the better.

So what should you do?

To start, your best bet is to find some safe natural methods of pest control, and try some time-tested avoidance basics, like avoiding trips to trouble spots, staying indoors at certain times of day, using window screens or mosquito netting, as well as wearing long-sleeve shirts, pants and high socks to minimize your exposure. If you need more protection, the next step is to weigh the risk of using a repellent versus the risk of not doing anything extra to keep bugs at bay. When your options are limited, Ohio Ob/Gyn David Barrere, MD, FACOG told us,

“Insecticides can be used in areas of good ventilation and limited airborne exposure." As with almost everything during pregnancy, you have to treat all chemical substances with caution. (See some EPA guidelines for insect repellents here.) "Read the labels prior to using any product," Dr Barrere adds."Often, insecticides use boric acid as the active ingredient, which can be very harmful if ingested." Then there are the basics to follow -- read the label prior to using any product, and use the smallest amount needed, and take care to keep bug spray and other repellents away from food, drink and eating areas. Of course, it would also be wise to leave the bug-eradication duties to an adult who is not currently pregnant, and get yourself well out of the way while the situation is being managed.

Play it safe on all fronts

Yes, bugs are creepy, and insect bites and stings can be itchy and bothersome -- but always err on the side of caution. “Overall, brief exposure [to insecticides] isn't likely to be harmful,” says Dr Barrere, “but you should take great care to reduce exposure.”

More about bug-less living for you and your family:

Are sunscreen and insect repellent safe to use during pregnancy?How to get rid of spiders & other bugsStop baby itching this summer with bug bite preventionBug spray on kids?Safe bug spray for babiesTips to avoid chiggersLyme disease: Are you prepared?Natural remedies for summer injuries and ailmentsPrevention, timely care important for those itching for bug-bite relief

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