Posted by Marianne Frederick
Any season these fellows are out in abundance is tick season. Unfortunately, some areas of the country didn’t have a hard freeze this past winter, so there may be more of these biters than usual. Ticks are mite-like arachnids and are parasitic to mammals. They live in bushes, woodlands and in tall grass, but can also be found in low-lying moist, damp areas. They exist in several sizes, from practically microscopic to the size of a pinky fingernail–and their bites can transmit diseases including Lyme Disease, Babesiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Colorado Tick Fever and Tularemia. If you are bitten, you may get nothing–or you may get what the tick was carrying!
If you enjoy hiking and camping and you take your young children along–or any family member with a compromised immune system–it’s important to do a tick check after walking or spending time in the woods or tall grass. Ticks attach themselves as you walk through leaves, by bushes or through grass. Once attached, ticks crawl to warm, moist places on the body and then proceed to draw blood.
To help children avoid ticks when walking in woods or fields, dress them in long-sleeves and long pants, tuck their shirts in their pants and pull their sock-tops above the bottoms of their pant legs, so the ticks can’t reach the skin around their ankles. Dressing children in light-colored clothing will help you see the dark-colored tick if it gets on their clothing.
If your child has been bitten by a tick, you will need to remove it if it is embedded in the skin, wash the bite site and dab it with some rubbing alcohol. Tick bites are usually painless, so it’s difficult for a child to know that a tick is there unless you check for and see it. In the past, people used to burn ticks and that is NOT advised, as it’s a burn hazard! The best way to remove a tick is to take a tweezers (not your fingers), grip the tick as close to his embedded head as possible and slowly, steadily pull straight out from the site. Store the tick in a jar…and over the next few weeks you should watch for symptoms of any tick-borne disease. If the tick isn’t removed completely, you will need to take your child to the doctor or emergency room so a health professional can remove it. If symptoms do materialize, you will want to take that tick in the jar with you to the doc, so they can determine what the tick was carrying.
Symptoms of a tick-borne disease can include swelling at the bite site (though not all tick bites do this), severe pain at the bite site, red rash, muscle-joint aches, stiff neck, swelling of lymph nodes, flu-like symptoms, difficulty breathing or apnea (cessation of breathing), weakness and uncoordinated movement. A tick bite can cause paralysis in humans, so you need to pay attention to the symptoms. If any of these symptoms develop,take your child to an emergency room as soon as possible. You can also call the National Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222 whose staff will provide more information about what you need to be doing immediately following a tick bite or further symptoms. Remember to do a tick check if you walk in the woods, and in the meantime, ChildSafetyBlog.org wishes you a safe and tick bite-free summer!