Summer is the perfect time for kids to get outside and explore the great outdoors! Maybe your family loves hiking or spending time on the river. Perhaps you enjoy camping or being on the lake. While getting outside is a great way to have fun, stay active, and create lasting memories with your family, parents should be aware of the health risks, like ticks. Ticks can carry harmful viruses and bacteria. Always remember to check your child for ticks after spending time outdoors.
Children aren’t always cautious about ticks, they may not know how to avoid ticks, and they may not know to properly check for ticks. The longer that a tick is latched on, the more likely it is to transmit viruses or bacteria.
Here’s how to avoid ticks, how to check your child for ticks, and when to talk to your child’s pediatrician.
Prevent Tick Bites
Limiting your contact with ticks decreases the likelihood that a tick will latch on.
- Ticks like thick vegetation and lush grass; stay on designated trails and pathways.
- Keep in mind that you don’t have to go deep into the woods to be bitten by ticks. You can find ticks crawling on you after going to the park, riding bikes on a bike trail, or spending time out in your backyard.
- Mowing your lawn regularly can help reduce the number of ticks in your yard.
- Wear insect repellent to keep ticks away. You shouldn’t use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months. If you’re concerned about chemicals in insect repellent, you can ask your pediatrician about which insect repellent they recommend.
- Wearing light colored clothing won’t prevent tick bites, but it makes it easier to spot ticks crawling on your clothes. This allows you to remove the ticks before they latch on.
You can’t always prevent tick bites. Don’t assume that wearing insect repellent is enough to get the job done. Always remember to check your child for ticks after they spend time outdoors.
Check Your Child for Ticks
Check for ticks after your child spends time outdoors, even after just playing in the backyard.
Shower or bathe within a couple of hours after spending time outdoors. This helps remove ticks that haven’t latched on, and it’s a good opportunity to check for ticks.
Check for ticks in your child’s hair, along their hairline, under arms, around the waist, arm pits, behind the knees, between the legs, and in the belly button. Ticks can bite anywhere, but they are drawn to these easily overlooked areas.
How Long Does it Take for a Tick to Transmit Disease?
You want to remove a tick as soon as you notice it’s latched on. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that a tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours before Lyme disease bacterium can be transmitted to the host.
Removing a tick within 24 hours greatly decreases your risk for tick-borne illnesses.
If you notice symptoms such as a red ring, rash, fever, or joint pain, or if you’re concerned about a tick bite on your child, call your pediatrician. Northwest Arkansas Pediatrics offers same-day appointments and a walk-in clinic staffed by board-certified pediatricians in Fayetteville and Pinnacle Hills.