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You’re patting your dog. Your hand feels a small bump on the dog’s head that you know wasn’t there recently. In you’re gut, you know what it is. You’re afraid to look, but you do so right away because you know you have to! You part the dog’s hair and breathe a sigh of relief to see it is a just a growth (fatty tissue). That’s when your child from the other room shrieks “Mom! There is something on me and it won’t come off!” This time you know. You rush to your child, to see there is a little ole tick that has decided to take up residence on your child’s skin. Now what?!
You’re thinking “Ewwwww!” but don’t say it. The tick is in their hair and you feel sick looking at it. But you know that if you freak out, your child will be freaking out as well. And that won’t do anyone any good! Keep it together. Tell your child you’re going to get ‘it’ out of their hair. He or she will want to know what it is. As a mom that has been there, I’m saying you may not want to say much until it is out of their head.
Lead your child to a well-lit area. I prefer the bathroom as it doesn’t have a rug in case the tick is able to get away from you. Grab your tweezers and a bag that seals such as a Ziplock bag. Holding your hand steady, pull it straight out, without twisting. Try not to squeeze the life out of that little blood sucker. You want to be able to get its mouth which is the part embedded into your child.
If you know you don’t have tweezers on hand, I would recommend getting a pair. Another idea is to get the Tick Twister. This has a dual flat tip that are not sharp like some tweezers, thus less frightening for your child. I purchased the two pack to be able to take one camping with us and keep the other at home.
Once you get the tick out, resist the urge to stomp on it and call it names. Instead, put it in a sealed bag and freeze it so you will have it, if needed for identification. You may want to label the bag with your child’s name and the date you pulled the little bugger out of your child. I also like to make note of the date and child’s name on my calendar. If your child gets a fever or is complaining they do not feel well within the next two weeks, you want to seek medical help.
Most ticks are not harmful but they can carry Lyme disease or a virus known as Powassan. This is worth repeating. If your child becomes sick in the next two weeks, it is worth a call to your doctor to let them know your child had a tick on them. They may want your child to come in for blood work to rule out any of the known tick sicknesses.
After pulling a tick off of my little guy, he told me, “Mom, I’m never going outside again!” Now as a mom of a blog that focuses on getting families outside, I was not thrilled to hear this. I explained to him that even if he never went outside again, he could still get a tick. They (the tick) could ‘catch a ride’ with our dog or any family member. Ticks can be in our backyard, the park or hiking.
Ticks can be scary, especially when they are on your child. But, if you are vigilant about tick checks every time you come in from outside, or like I told my kids, “when we brush teeth at night, we also check for ticks”. Another idea is to throw your clothes into a hot dryer for 15 minutes to kill any ticks that may have come home with you after playing at the park.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) DEET, showers and tick checks can stop ticks. Dress your children in lighter colors so it’s easier to do tick checks. Wear bug repellent. From the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), they recommend that repellents should contain no more than 30% DEET when used on children. Insect repellents also are not recommended for children younger than 2 months.
Enjoy the Outdoors
A few days have passed since my son had the tick on him. And I am happy to report, he is going back outside to play but his attitude has changed. He, at only 5 years old, now understands how important it is to check for ticks. He even helps me check other family members and the dog for ticks after we’ve been outdoors.
I have taken a few ticks off of family members over the years and most have been found in their hair however, I will tell you it is not the only place you will find them. Ticks like dark places that they may not be noticed at first such as folds of skin, in ears, belly button, under arms, on ones back. Thorough checks are needed every day.
At your home, keep your lawn maintained as long grass can hide ticks from the sun something they are not fans of. They are also not fans for mulch or gravel so a barrier between wooded areas and your lawn can help keep them at bay.
Following these steps may reduce your chances of getting a tick bite so you and your family can continue enjoying the outdoors together.
What methods to remove a tick have worked for you? Please share your favorite tick prevention ideas below.
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Other Sources: Reader’s Digest