Summer brings tick season and the threat of Lyme disease. Ticks are found particularly in humid climates in woods, weeds, tall grass and shrubs. They can also be carried into the house by dogs.
- One of the most important routines parents can establish are end-of-day “tick checks” at bath time or as part of a bedtime routine. If one night you do identify a tick, and are confident it could not have been attached longer than the 24 hour period since your last tick check, you can remove it and rest easy that the risk for Lyme infection is low.
Removal and After Care
- If the tick is still attached to the skin, it needs to be removed. Covering the tick with petroleum jelly, nail polish, or rubbing alcohol does NOT work. Neither does touching the tick with a hot or cold object. Try the following technique:
Tick Removal: Tweezers
- Use tweezers and grasp the tick close to the skin (on its head). Pull the tick straight upward without twisting or crushing it. Maintain a steady pressure until it releases its grip. Be sure to add a good pair of tweezers (point tweezers are best) to your first aid kit and travel bag.
- Wash the wound and your hands with soap and water after removal to prevent catching any tick disease.
- Apply antibiotic ointment such as Polysporin to the bite once (no prescription needed).
- Call your doctor if you can’t remove the tick or the tick’s head; fever or rash develops in the next 2 weeks; the bite begins to look infected; or your child develops any symptoms you are worried about.
- When hiking tick-infested areas, wear long clothing and tuck the ends of pants into socks.
- Permethrin products applied to clothing are even more effective against ticks than DEET products.
- More about insect repellants here from AAP HealthyChildren.org
Tick Repellent for Skin: DEET
- DEET is an effective tick repellent.
- Use 30% DEET for children and adolescents (American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation, 2003). Straight 30% DEET protects for 6 hours, extended release formulations can last up to 24 hours (e.g., Ultrathon by 3M)
Tick Repellent for Clothing: Permethrin
- Permethrin-containing products (eg, Duranon, Permanone) are effective tick repellents.
- An advantage over using DEET is that they are applied to and left on clothing instead of skin. Apply it to clothes, especially pants, cuffs, socks, and shoes. You can also put it on other outdoor items (e.g., mosquito screen, sleeping bags).
- Do not apply permethrin to skin.
Adapted from healthychildren.org
Sky Pittson, MD, June 15, 2021