Little ones love exploring the great outdoors and while a little dirt doesn’t hurt, a bite from a tick cannot only leave a mark, it can cause infection.
There’s been a steady migration of ticks (deer or blacklegged tick, wood tick and others), the main carrier of Lyme disease, to Ohio since 2010. In 2014, the Ohio Department of Health reported 119 cases of Lyme disease from 32 Ohio counties, a sharp increase from the 21 cases noted in 2010.
Ticks tend to be present in Ohio from April – October, with more than half the cases of Lyme disease reported in June and July.
“Ticks aren’t like lice or mosquitos that tend to be prevalent in specific environments and simply bite,” said Dr. Blaise Congeni, director of infectious disease at Akron Children’s Hospital. “Ticks are outdoors – in grass and wooded areas – and they bite, attach and burrow themselves into the skin, causing infection.”
According to Dr. Congeni, it’s important to check yourself and your child for ticks daily, especially after outdoor play. If you find a tick, don’t panic and remove it right away.
5 tips on how to remove a tick from the skin:
- Use tweezers to grasp the tick firmly at its head or mouth, next to the skin. Never use petroleum jelly or a hot match to kill and remove a tick. These methods don’t get the tick off the skin, and can cause the insect to burrow deeper and release more saliva (which increases the chances of disease transmission).
- Pull firmly and steadily until the tick lets go of the skin. Do not twist the tick or rock it from side to side. If part of the tick stays in the skin, don’t worry. It will eventually come out on its own.
- Wash your hands and the site of the bite with soap and water.
- Swab the bite site with alcohol.
- Monitor the area for a few days and look for signs of infection such as a red bump ringed by an expanding red rash (looks like a bull’s-eye and is 5 cm or larger), as well as flu-like symptoms such as low-grade fever, headache, fatigue, vomiting, and muscle and joint aches.
“It takes about 24 to 48 hours for a tick to transmit the bacteria that cause Lyme disease,” said Dr. Congeni. “The earlier you treat Lyme disease the easier it is to treat long-term complications of the disease.”
If your child isn’t experiencing flu-like symptom but has a mark or rash of concern, take a picture of the area with a ruler next to it and make an appointment to meet with your physician. The picture will help the physician see changes in the condition to better assess the true cause of the rash.