Summer fun means more time outside, which means more exposure to ticks. This season runs from May-October, and for many parents can cause anxiety. How do you protect your child from ticks? What do you if your child is bitten?
Dr. Natalie Jedacek answers some common questions about tick exposure.
- “Ticks can look like black dots on the skin,” explained Dr. Jedacek.
- If you notice one on your child, it’s important to remove it before it becomes engorged, Dr. Jedacek said.
To remove a tick:
- Use tweezers to grab the tick as close to the skin as possible. (Don’t use things like petroleum jelly or turpentine or try to burn the tick off.)
- Gently pull the tick upwards. If you abruptly jerk the tick, its head can still remain in the skin.
- Once the tick is removed, clean the area with soap and water or rubbing alcohol.
When and how to check your child for ticks
- Dr. Jedacek recommends checking your child for ticks when they come in from outside activities if you live in an area where ticks are in high numbers.
- Check your child beginning from top to bottom, said Dr. Jedacek.
- “Start from the top of head and move down towards toes, especially look in hair/scalp, remove clothing as needed to really get a good inspection of the child’s skin,” she said.
- Don’t forget to check your pets regularly if they go outdoors, too.
- In addition to checking your children and pets when they come in from outside, you can dress your child in long sleeves and pants if they’re going to be hiking or spending time in grassy fields.
What to do if your child is bitten by a tick
- If you remove a tick from your child, check its size.
- “If the tick is smaller than the size of an eraser head, more likely to be a deer tick, which is associated with Lyme disease, dog ticks are much bigger,” Dr. Jedacek said.
- After you remove the tick and clean the area, you’ll want to monitor your child for symptoms of infectious disease. Symptoms can include:
- A rash in the shape of a bullseye
- Joint pain
- Swollen lymph nodes
If your child develops symptoms, or you’re concerned about their exposure to ticks, visit your pediatrician.