Lyme Disease and Ticks
Summer is over but ticks and lyme disease are still a concern. Ticks are small arachnid creatures that feed on blood and can carry a variety of diseases including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme Disease. You can find ticks all over the world, but they especially thrive in warm humid areas such as those of America’s southern states. Learn how to protect your children from illnesses resulting from their bites.
There are several ways you can help protect your children from ticks. Prior to entering wooded areas, spray their exposed skin and clothing with a DEET containing insect repellent, although DEET may not be that effective. Permethrin sprayed on clothing is actually more effective. Clothe your kids in hats, long pants and socks to help reduce their chances of getting bit. Instruct your children to stay on trails during hikes.
Examine your children carefully after they play outdoors. Look for ticks in their hair, behind their ears, the inside of their elbows, behind their knees and in skin folds. Have your kids shower soon after coming inside, and wash their clothing promptly and dry the worn articles under high heat. Inspect your children’s outdoor gear (such as backpacks) for ticks.
Take actions to make your yard safer from these pests. Mow frequently and dispose of the leaf litter. Remove debris from your yard where ticks can hide and don’t plant shrubs close to the house. Consider lining the perimeter of your yard with wood chips as ticks won’t cross over them (probably because the material is so dry). Place outdoor toys and swing sets in sunny areas.
Even with precautions, you will sometimes find ticks on your children’s skin. Don’t panic when this happens. Use a pair of clean tweezers to remove the arachnid. Grasp the body firmly and pull straight out. Mouth parts might remain embedded in the skin; remove them with the tweezers if possible but, if not, allow the skin to heal. Dispose of the tick by flushing it in the toilet, submerging it in rubbing alcohol or placing it in an airtight plastic bag.
Observe your children for symptoms of Lyme disease and tick borne illness even if you are not sure a bite occurred. Common signs are rashes, fever, chills, headache and fatigue. See your family physician as soon as possible if you suspect a problem. Most of the time, doctors successfully treat these diseases with antibiotics. FirstCare Medical Center is one of the areas leading centers for treating Lyme disease.