Summer is just around the corner, and so is the potential for a greater exposure to tick bites. Tick-borne illnesses, such as Lyme disease, can threaten your children, your pets, and even you. Don't let these little carriers ruin your family’s good time. To help protect your children from ticks this summer, follow these tips by First Pediatric Care Center.
Why ticks are no friend to man or beast
Ticks are tiny, blood-sucking mites that can be as small as a poppy seed and as big as a marble. Unlike mosquitoes, who bite and fly away, ticks bite, draw blood, and stay attached to your body until they become engorged and fall off after about 10 days.
Most tick bites are uncomfortable but not dangerous. However, some kinds of ticks, such as deer ticks, commonly carry diseases that can cause the following symptoms.
- Neck stiffness
- Muscle and joint pain
- Chills and fever
Lyme disease, carried by deer ticks, can become a chronic and debilitating condition it not recognized and treated immediately. About 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention annually. Other tick-borne illnesses include Colorado tick fever, Powassan encephalitis, and Q fever.
How to protect your child from ticks
You could keep your kids inside all summer, but that won’t be much fun for them or you. So take these precautions.
Avoid tick-filled areas
The best way to avoid ticks is to avoid their homes. Ticks live in wooded, bushy, and grassy places. Tell your kids to play in the sun, because the sun dries out ticks quickly. And if they’re in the sun, make sure they’re wearing sunscreen.
Wear the right clothes
Cover up and lighten up. Ticks can’t easily latch onto clothing, but if one does, it will be easier to spot the little freeloader on light-colored clothes. If you're walking or camping in tick-heavy woods or fields, tuck your pant legs into your socks. And when you return home, throw your clothes in the dryer, which will kill ticks you didn't spot.
Repel the suckers
Spray your kids with permethrin, which will repel adult ticks and nymphs. If you don’t want to spray your kids with insecticide, wrap them in permethrin-treated clothing.
Treat your yard
A tidy yard will discourage ticks. Mow your lawn, trim your bushes, and prune your trees. You can also treat your yard with anti-tick sprays. Be sure to check the labels, because some chemicals can be harmful to humans and pets.
Check your pets
Inspect your dogs and cats for ticks before they enter the house. Particularly check under their legs, between their toes, and inside their ears.
If, despite your best preventative efforts, a tick bites your child, remove its entire body with tweezers. If a rash or flu-like symptoms develop, book an appointment online or over the phone with First Pediatric Care Center right away.