Children who love to play outdoors in wooded areas and around pets face the risk of getting tick bites. With this in mind, it is important to check the child when he/she enters the house to ensure that he/she does not have a tick bite. Most cases of tick bites are usually harmless and do not require medical care but some ticks can transmit bacteria to toddlers that can lead to medical issues if not properly managed.
Ticks are part of the arachnid family. They attack on the skin of a human or animal and sucks blood. Ticks are found almost everywhere and there are various kinds. The most common types include the dog tick and deer tick. The dog ticks are large in size and easy to spot while the deer tick can be as small as a point of a pencil.
Lyme disease is spread mainly by deer ticks and caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. It is important to note that a tick infected by the bacteria must be attached to the toddler for at least 24-48 hours before it can transmit the bacteria to the toddler.
The symptoms of Lyme disease include the distinctive bull’s eye rash. The toddler can also experience the flu-like symptoms including fatigue, fever, joint and muscle aches as well as headaches. Early diagnosis of the disease and treatment using antibiotics can prevent serious illness and long-term complications.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever
Rocky Mountain spotted fever is basically a bacterial infection that is transmitted to humans by tick bites. The infection is considered rare but can become serious if not properly treated. The condition can cause symptoms such as red-colored dots on the ankles, wrist, palms and soles. Other symptoms include vomiting, fever, nausea, chills and muscle aches.
The treatment includes antibiotics and toddlers typically recover without any complications. If not treated right away or the treatment was delayed, it can cause serious health issues involving the brain, heart and lungs.
When removing a tick that is attached to the skin, you have to use a fine-tipped tweezers and hold the head of the tick close to the skin. Firmly pull the tick straight out of the skin without moving from side to side. It is best to store the tick in a container and show it to a doctor in case the toddler becomes sick. Do not use petroleum jelly to remove the tick. Once the tick is removed, clean the bite site using warm water and soap and then swab the skin with alcohol. If you want to learn the correct steps in tick removal, read here.
When preventing a tick bite, the toddler should wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors. After playing outside, inspect the hair and skin, especially the scalp, under the arms, neck and behind the ears. You can apply an insect repellant and avoid tick-infested areas to prevent any ticks.
Considerations to bear in mind
If you believe that a tick has been on a child for more than 24 hours, a doctor should be consulted. In case the tick stays on the skin after failed attempts to remove it, bite site appears infected or the toddler has fever or flu-like symptoms, a doctor should be consulted. Call for emergency assistance if the toddler has a severe headache, chest pain, difficulty breathing, heart palpitations or paralysis.