As we get closer to the start of summer, tick season is in full swing in Illinois. From April to June each year it is important to take precautions to avoid tick bites when spending time outdoors. These small bugs carry a variety of illnesses, such as Lyme disease, that can threaten every member of your family. Don’t let ticks ruin your good time this summer. Follow these tips from Bard & Didriksen Pediatrics.
Tick prevention tips for your child
Implement early tick prevention measures
You can prevent ticks from coming near your house by having professionals apply treatments to your lawn. We also highly recommend you treat any pets that venture outdoors because they can easily pick up ticks from the yard or neighborhood and bring them into your home.
Dress children appropriately
One of the easiest ways to keep ticks off your children is by ensuring their body is fully covered when exploring areas where ticks are known to roam. Other clothing tips include:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts.
- Wear socks and boots, especially in wooded areas.
- Choose light-colored clothing, which lets you quickly spot ticks.
- Keep long hair pulled back.
- Tuck pant legs into socks to keep ticks on the outside of clothing
Use insect repellent
Another option for keeping ticks off children is using an insect repellent. Products containing 20% to 30% DEET are safe to use on children older than 2 months of age. For infants, mosquito netting over their stroller can be utilized instead. The higher the concentration of DEET, the longer the product will last. So if your outdoor plans will only be a couple hours, a lower concentration will suffice.
Generally, insect repellent containing DEET should not be used more than once a day. Carefully follow the directions on the product’s label when applying. Avoid applying it to kids’ hands to prevent the repellent being accidentally ingested or rubbed into their eyes. Additionally, we recommend applying the product in an open area so that it is not inhaled. Ensure your child’s skin and clothes are thoroughly washed once you are back home.
Bathe and wash clothes often
After each adventure outdoors, it is vital to check your child’s body thoroughly for ticks before a bath. These little pests are attracted to tight dark spaces such as behind the ears or on the scalp, groin and armpits, so be sure to give those areas a good once over. Clothes worn outside should be promptly taken off upon arriving home and placed directly into the washing machine, especially if insect repellent has been used. Wash clothes in hot water as soon as possible.
Keep grass short in play areas
Ticks can quickly breed in tall grasses, branches and moist areas. You should landscape your lawn throughout the summer and spring to keep the children’s play area safe. Also, if deer frequent your area, consider installing a fence to keep the animals away from your home because they can quickly attract and introduce ticks to an area.
How to remove ticks
If you notice a tick attached to your child’s skin, remove it as soon as possible. Tricks to follow when removing ticks:
- If the tick hangs on the skin surface, scrape it off gently using a flat, hard surface.
- If embedded, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the head and pull it straight up.
- Once you remove the tick, clean the affected area thoroughly and wash your hands when done.
Avoid crushing the tick with your fingers after removing it. Instead, you should dip it in an alcohol-filled bag, and seal the bag in case your doctor wants to see the tick.
When to call a doctor
If you notice that your child isn’t feeling well after removing a tick, you should call your doctor immediately. You’ll also want to watch out for red, irritated skin, flu-like symptoms, joint pain or swollen joints or if they experience sudden difficulty moving their face. All of these are symptoms of Lyme disease, which has better outcomes the sooner treatment begins.
The bottom line
At Bard & Didriksen, we have over 20 years of experience treating infants, children and adolescents in the Glen Carbon area. We are ready to provide your children with excellent medical care in the event of a tick bite or any other summertime ailment. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!