“Ticked” OffJune 1, 2017
Experts say this years tick season is going to be a fierce one. Get prepared with the following tips from our pediatricians.
Facts about ticks
- Ticks crawl. They do not fly or jump.
- Ticks generally attach to children’s legs or feet and may crawl toward other parts of the body, especially the head or ears.
- There are many different types of ticks (see image above). Only deer ticks carry Lyme Disease and the Powassan virus.
- A tick must be attached for 24-48 hours to transmit many diseases, including Lyme. That means that early detection and removal can prevent the transmission of Lyme disease. Powassan virus can be transmitted in minutes but is much more rare.
- The best protection is prevention. Long clothing, repellent, frequent showers and skin checks can prevent tick bites and illness.
- Use repellent with at least 20% DEET. Follow recommended safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics on choosing the right product for your child’s needs.
- Treat outdoor clothing with Permethrin or buy already made tick-repellent clothing. This includes outdoor boots, pants and any camping or hiking gear.
- Shower soon after coming inside. Research shows that showering within 2 hours of exposure reduces the likelihood of contracting Lyme Disease.
- Check your children every day. Pay special attention to hiding places like under the arms, in and around ears, behind legs, in the groin area and along the scalp and in the hair.
If you find a tick
- Don’t panic.
- Remove a tick with a fine-tip (pointy) tweezer. Pull the tick straight up (like a splinter) from as close to the skin as possible. Try not to break or rip the tick to avoid leaving the head behind. Check out advice from the CDC for more detailed information on tick removal.
- Wash the area with soap and warm water or clean with alcohol once the tick is removed.
- Do not crush the tick with your hands. Dispose of it in the toilet, save it for identification (if desired) or seal in a plastic bag prior to disposal in the trash.
- Take a picture of the tick – you can use it to identify the type of tick and assess any necessary follow-up (see image above)
- If you find a deer tick that has likely been on for more than 24-48 hours, discuss options with your pediatrician. These include watching for the next 1-4 weeks for symptoms of acute Lyme, prophylactic antibiotic treatment with doxycycline or testing your child for Lyme disease 3-4 weeks after the tick bite. You cannot test for Lyme at the time of a bite.