Take the Sting Out of Spring (and Summer)

As the weather gets warmer, everyone looks forward to getting back outside – especially kids!

Along with the fun and sun, those increased outdoor activities bring a whole host of potential health snags like sunburns, bumps, scrapes, sprains, allergies – and those dreaded bug bites and stings.

Of those, one that especially concerns parents is the tick and the potential for transmission of Lyme disease.

Play keep-away

“When it comes to ticks, a little prevention can go a long way,” says Dr. Lori Georgeson, Southcoast Health Pediatrician. She offers these tips for keeping kids tick-free:

  • Avoid tick habitats when possible. Teach kids to stay away from tall grass, woods and leaf piles.
  • Dress children in light-colored clothing so ticks are easier to spot. Tuck shirts into pants and pants into socks.
  • Apply an insect repellent containing DEET or picaridin to exposed skin and clothing.
  • Be sure pets are treated regularly with flea and tick protection.

Keep in mind, if your child does get a tick bite, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will lead to an infection. Caution, along with regular tick checks of your child and pets, are your best line of defense – and timing is everything.

Tick Toc

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ticks can remain attached to the human body for up to two weeks. Ticks typically need to be attached for at least 24 hours before they can transmit Lyme disease, making tick checks and prompt removal crucial to prevention.

“Always check your child (and pets) thoroughly whenever they come in from outdoors,” Dr. Georgeson advises. “Pay particular attention to warm, moist areas of the body where ticks like to hide, including the scalp, inside and around the ears, armpits, inside the belly button and groin.”

If you do find a tick:

  • Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible
  • Pull upward with steady, even pressure – don’t twist
  • After removal, clean the area thoroughly with soap and water or an antiseptic wipe

There’s also a chance that you may never see the tick that bit your child, particularly if it was attached for several days and fell off on its own. “During regular tick checks, be on the lookout for telltale signs of a tick-borne infection,” Dr. Georgeson suggests. “That includes a red, round or oval rash surrounding a bite or a bull’s-eye rash that looks like a red ring around a clear area with a red center.” She adds that a rash can take from 3-10 says to appear – and may not develop at all – so it’s important to be on the lookout for other warning signs like fever or flu-like symptoms.

If you have any concerns, play it safe. See your child’s pediatrician as soon as possible for evaluation and treatment.

The bottom line            

At the end of the day, it’s all about prevention and diligence, not letting it ruin those warm-weather adventures. Prevention, knowing what to look for and taking quick action in the event of a tick bite can help keep your child safe and healthy all season long – so get outside and have some fun!

With well wishes for health and happiness,

Lori Georgeson, MD
Southcoast Health Pediatrics

Dr. Lori Georgeson is currently accepting new pediatric patients. Schedule an appointment online or call 508-973-9240.