It is comforting, great to have pets, and love the outdoors; however, it also has a downside to it, which includes pest infestation. Dogs, cats, and other pets tend to attract pests like fleas and ticks. Unfortunately, ticks can transmit dangerous illnesses like Lyme disease and Tularemia. These diseases are not limited to just your pets, but they affect us, including our children.
How to check for tick bites
As adults, we can quickly check if a tick bites us or not, but when it comes to kids, they may get bitten and not even know it, especially when they are having fun with their friends. So it is left for us to help them check for bites.
When you and your young ones are back from the outdoors, especially in grassy or wooded areas during summer, ensure you inspect your children, dogs, or cats for insect bites. Do a tick scan by looking carefully in the following areas:
- Back of the knees
- Between the legs
- In and around the ears
- Inside the belly button
- In and around the hair
Also, check clothing for ticks to make sure you didn’t bring ticks into your home; to be safe, toss the clothes in the drier on high heat to ensure tick does not sneak into your home. Besides, bathe your kids soon after they have been out in the grass or woods; this will help prevent infection with a tick-borne disease.
What is Lyme disease?
Black-legged ticks, also know as deer ticks are brown and have the size of a pencil tip, or poppy seed (it all depends on how old they are). Deer tick can carry the type of bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Fortunately, infection with Lyme disease is relatively rare; it occurs in between 1.2 and 1.4% of cases of deer tick bites.
However, if a deer tick bites your child, it is essential to keep an eye out for the symptoms of Lyme disease, especially a circular rash that usually appears with three to thirty days around the bite site.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some persons who are infected with Lyme disease do not get the rash; it shows in 70 to 80% of Lyme disease cases. If you see such a rash, take your child to the pediatrician right away. Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics, but they work effectively when treatment started at the first sign of infection.
However, if you don’t see signs of the rash, but you suspect your child has been bitten by a tick, you may want to visit the pediatrician to be extra careful.
How to remove ticks and treat tick bites in children
Ticks prefer to hang around by burrowing its head into the skin; this makes it tricky to remove a tick from a baby. Nonetheless, here is what to do if you spot a tick on your little young one’s body.
Warm and wet cotton ball
Soak a cotton ball in warm, soapy water and let it sit on your toddler’s skin for about 30 seconds and then remove the ball; the tick should come with the cotton ball.
Another way to remove a tick from your child is tweezers; hold the tick firmly at the head or mouth (close to your child’s skin), and pull firmly and steadily until it comes off. Please, do not twist the tweezers while removing a tick; otherwise, you may come away with just the tick’s body, but with a mouth still stuck in your child’s body.
Clean the bite area with warm soapy water and apply an antibiotic ointment on the bite area.
Put the ticks in an airtight bag
Place the ticks inside a sealed plastic bag or container if possible, then take it to the pediatrician to check what type of tick they are and if they can transmit Lyme or other tick-borne diseases to your child.
How to prevent tick bites in children
When going out in the woods or walking in tall grass, especially in areas where ticks are prevalent, ensure your kids wear long-sleeved shirts, and long pants also tuck the bottoms of pants into shoes and socks before going out.
Treat outdoor clothes with permethrin and other types of insect repellent that’s more effective than DEET against ticks.
Apply tick repellent containing 10 to 30% of DEET on all exposed skin, except their faces for children older than three months old. Fortunately, it also prevents mosquito bites and keeps spiders at bay. However, apply as directed by the manufacturer or the pediatrician
Call the professionals for tick and flea control if you notice your ticks in and outside your home. Also, ticks love moist places close to wooded or grassy areas, when the children are playing outside, do well to ensure they are not walking or playing in these places.