May Is Lyme Disease Awareness Month: How To Protect Your Kids From Tick Bites

By Tanya Diente, Parent Herald May 16, 07:57 am
Tick-borne diseases are prevalent in the summer months and one such disease is the Lyme disease. Wearing proper clothing when going outdoors is one way that parents can help prevent their kids from getting the infection.
(Photo : Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images)

Summer means fun times at the beach and the outdoors but it is also when tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease, are prevalent. Below are ways that parents can keep their children safe from the life-threatening disease.

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month and appropriately so. The summer months are usually when ticks thrive the most. Some may think that these little creepy-crawlies do not present any health danger but they could not be more wrong. A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that the rate of tick-borne diseases has alarmingly increased in the recent years in the United States.

These ticks carry a growing list of diseases including the West Nile virus, chikungunya, Lyme disease, and Zika. A single bite from a mosquito, a flea or a tick can pose a threat to the health and most susceptible are the children.

In Canada, children between the ages of 5 and 9 are commonly affected than adults. If left untreated during its early stages, Lyme disease can cause severe problems including arthritis, meningitis, and temporary weakness of muscles. As a parent, it is important to know how to protect kids from Lyme disease.

Proper Clothing

Ticks usually lurk in wooded areas or in vegetation so when planning to trek or camp out in the woods, it is important to wear appropriate clothing to prevent being bit. Pants tucked into long socks, long sleeves, closed shoes, and a hat are advisable. This prevents the ticks to latch on to the skin.

Applying permethrin to tents, pants, boots, socks, and long sleeves also helps ward off the ticks. After the outdoor excursion, it is best to check the body for possible bites and to avoid the chances of bringing the ticks inside the house. Then it is advisable to take a bath since it cuts the risk of getting a Lyme infection.

Removal And Disinfection

A pair of tweezers is the only thing needed to remove a tick that has attached itself to a child's body. Get a good firm grip on the insect and pull upward in a steady and even movement, as not to jerk the tweezers. Once the tick is removed, put it in a sealed container then apply a disinfectant to the bitten skin such as rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. Lyme disease develops if the tick has been attached to its host for a full 36 hours. If the removal happens within 24 hours, then it is unlikely the child will get the disease.

Prevention

For family's with dogs, it is best to check for tick infestation at home especially in the warm months. The dog can also be treated with a medicated bath to remove any fleas or ticks from the body.

The CDC advises parents to check for the following symptoms 30 days after the first bite if they suspect that their child has Lyme disease: fever, headache, chills, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, rashes, and muscle or joint aches.

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