With the Habagat rains and early evening showers showing no sign of stopping anytime soon, dengue remains a threat to kids and adults alike – particularly in areas with many trees or large bodies of water.

Most of us are familiar with the common ways of preventing dengue around the home or school:

  1. Spray insecticide in the dark corners and common areas around the home every few days.

  2. Install screen windows and doors around the house, or repair broken ones.

  3. Clear stagnant water from around the house or yard daily (e.g. flower pots, gutters, bottles, pails, open trash cans, vases).

  4. Clear piles of fallen leaves, mulch, and other damp waste from your roof and yard.

  5. Position an electric fan at floor level or aimed toward your lower half in common areas at home, as they typically avoid strong wind and fly close to the ground.

It’s when you get to personal dengue prevention that the confusion begins. For instance, did you know that you shouldn’t apply any kind of mosquito repellents on children younger than three months?

This is because commercial repellents contain substances like “active ingredients” like DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) and Picaridin (KBR 3023 or icaridin outside the US), which make them so effective at repelling mosquitoes. DEET is the most common, but all of active ingredients have to be used in the proper quantities and circumstances to be safe and effective.

With that in mind, we’ve compiled the best ways you can protect your loved ones from dengue, including the types of mosquito repellents you can use at every age!


Newborns: 0-2 months old

Use: No mosquito repellents of any kind (natural or commercial).

Because of DEET and other active ingredients, mosquito repellents aren’t safe to use on newborns.

Instead of relying on repellents, focus on other ways of preventing mosquito bites. Dress the baby in light-colored clothing that completely covers the arms and legs, in synthetic fabrics if you can manage.

Light-colored objects are less attractive targets for mosquitoes, who hunt by sight and go for targets that stand out as dark against their surroundings. Also, synthetic fabrics like nylon or polyester have a tighter weave, leaving bugs no room to bite.

Lastly, invest in quality mesh or mosquito netting for your baby’s crib, bed, or stroller.


Infants 3 months to 1 year, Toddlers 1-3 years old

Use: Mosquito repellents with 10 to 30% DEET content

When: Every 5 to 8 hours, or every 4-5 hours if the child spends time outside or swims

Once the baby reaches three months to three years old, it’s safe to use repellents with a small percentage of DEET or other active ingredients –  30% at most. Avoid applying cream-based repellents on the baby’s hands (in case they come into contact with their eyes or mouth), too near the eyes or mouth, on wounds or irritated skin, or on skin covered by clothing.

Or, if you’re using a spray-based repellent, avoid spraying it directly on the face. Apply it on your hands first instead, then spread it on the baby’s face manually.


Children 4-12 years old

Use: Mosquito repellent with 30% DEET content

When: Every 5 to 8 hours, or every 4-5 hours if the child spends time outside or swims

At four to twelve years old, children tend to be more active. Be sure to help them freshen up (change shirts, apply powder, wipe away sweat, re-apply mosquito repellent., etc.) immediately after every playtime or P.E. class. Mosquitoes are attracted to our sweat and the carbon dioxide we emit, both of which increase during playtime or any physical exertion.

Covering up with long-sleeved, light clothing and closed shoes in synthetic fabric during the rainy season still applies, as do the 10-30% DEET percentage and the rules of applying the different types of repellents. Just remember: the higher the DEET percentage, the longer the period of protection, barring water-based activities like swimming.

Re-apply repellents with 30% DEET percentage frequently if your child is active in sports and activities that involve spending time outdoors, or immediately after their post-swim washup.

If you’re not into manufactured products, you can easily make your own bug buster spray by combining lemon eucalyptus oil and other essential oils as an alternative. Note that “lemon eucalyptus” is a specific type of oil, not a combination of lemon and eucalyptus oils, so be sure that you’re buying the right thing.

Photo courtesy of Piping Rock

Like DEET, it’s considered an active ingredient for mosquito repellents – the only botanical one recommended by the USA’s Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), but doesn’t last as long as DEET or Picaridin: two to three hours at most. It must also be diluted with other substances like witch hazel and citronella oil before being applied to skin.

There are two recipes available: a quick one with just three home ingredients and an all-natural one made purely with essential oils.


Teens 13-19 years old

Use: Mosquito repellent with at least 30% DEET content

When: Every 5 to 8 hours, or every 4-5 hours if you spend time outside or sweat

As you get older, you can tolerate a higher DEET percentage. On regular days, 30% is sufficient, as long as you reapply after physical exercise or as necessary.

Re-apply your repellent of choice of repellent or your lemon eucalyptus spray after sunset as well, if you intend to stay out at night. Sunrise and sunset are peak mosquito hours anywhere, rainy season or not, so you want the effect of your repellent the strongest possible.

Old-school measures like covering up in light-colored clothing, using mosquito nets, and freshening up after physical exercise still apply.


Adults 20 years old-onwards


  1. Repellents with DEET content of less than 15% or Lemon Eucalyptus Spray – Stay-in days with limited outdoor activity. It will provide 1-2 hours of protection. Example: OFF!® FamilyCare Insect Repellent IV Mini Pump Spray

  2. Repellents with 15 to 30% DEET – For days you will spend mostly outdoors.  It will provide 5-8 hours of protection. Example: OFF! Deep Woods® Insect Repellent VIII (Dry)

  3. Repellents with more than 30% DEET – For days you will engage in heavy sports or outdoor activities, or when entering high-risk areas for mosquito bites (e.g. forests). It will provide up to 10 hours of protection. Example: OFF! Deep Woods® Sportsmen Insect Repellent I

When: Every 5 to 8 hours, or every 4-5 hours if you spend time outside or sweat

There is still no vaccine or medicine to specifically for dengue, so prevention is definitely the way to go!

Stay healthy this rainy season by using your PayMaya to shop for your mosquito repellent supplies online! Browse the OFF!® online shop ready-to-use repellents or shop Piping Rock’s selection of essential oils if you’re into DIY sprays.



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