Dealing with Ticks

Did you know that ticks can be active on winter days when the ground temperatures are above 44 ºF?

The best way to protect yourself against tick-borne illnesses is to examine yourself/child(ren) at least daily and remove any ticks before they become engorged with blood.
In addition:

  • Wear light colored clothing with a tight weave to spot ticks easily. You could also tape the area where pants and socks meet to prevent ticks from crawling under clothing.
  • Frequently scan clothes and any exposed skin for ticks while outdoors.
  • Keep long hair back and tied up.
  • Consider an application of repellent prior to outdoor activity. Be sure to wash treated skin after coming indoors.
  • If using sunscreen, apply first then the repellent.
  • Do a final, full-body (head to toe) tick-check at the end of the day.

What are ticks?
Ticks are small insects that live in grass, bushes, wooded areas, and seashores. They attach their bodies onto a human or animal host and prefer hairy areas such as the scalp, behind the ear, in the armpits and groin, and also between the fingers and toes. Tick bites often occur at night and occur more in the spring and summer months.

What to do if you find a tick on your child:
By remaining calm and knowing some basic first-aid techniques, you can help your child overcome the fear and the trauma of a tick bite:

  • Do not touch the tick with your bare hand. If you do not have a pair of tweezers, take your child to your nearest healthcare facility, where the tick can be safely removed.
  • Use a pair of tweezers to remove the tick. Grab the tick firmly by its mouth or head as close to your child’s skin as possible.
  • Pull up slowly and steadily without twisting until it lets go. Do not squeeze the tick, use petroleum jelly, solvents, knives or a lit match to kill the tick.
  • Save the tick and place it in a plastic container or bag so it can be tested for disease, if necessary.
  • Wash the area of the bite well with soap and water, and apply an antiseptic lotion or cream.
  • Call your child’s physician to find out about follow-up care and testing of the tick for spirochetes, or organisms that may be carried by the tick.

Regardless of how careful you are about animals in your home, or how many precautions you take when your child is playing outdoors, tick bites are sometimes unavoidable. As always, feel free to contact me with any questions.
– Mary Durant, R.N.