When summer comes and the weather is nice, we tend to send children outside to play. While this is a great way to help your children have fun on a budget, stay physically fit, and enjoy the great weather summer has to offer, one of the risks we may not always think about is the chance of tick bites. Ticks have taken a front row seat in many summer warnings this year. How can you protect yourself and your children from them, and what should you do if one of you has been bit?
What is a Tick?
Just like most insects, there are many types of ticks that vary in size. Ticks are flat or oval in shape and do not have wings. Not all of them carry Lyme Disease or other devastating health risks, but it is important to take all tick bites seriously. They often live in wooded areas or tall grass and, contrary to popular belief, they do not jump onto you, but rather move onto a host when they are rubbed up against.
First Line of Defense
The most important step in protecting yourself and your family from tick bites is covering up! If you are going into an area where you know ticks might be lurking, wear long sleeves, pants, and a hat. Although this is not popular summer attire, reducing the amount of exposed skin limits where a tick can attach itself. Wearing special clothing with tick repellent in the fabric is especially effective, and can be washed up to 70 times before a replacement is needed. When you are done enjoying your time outside, check yourself and your children for any of the pests, as the earlier you find them, the less likely they are to pose a risk to your or your child’s health.
I found a Tick!
If you have found a tick on yourself or your child, do not panic. Ticks can only transmit infection if attached to the host over 12-24 hours. Do not use any removal methods that could irritate the tick, rather go straight for the tweezers. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull straight up gently until it releases from the skin. Do not twist it or pull from side to side. Put the tick in a plastic baggie in case you need to identify it later. Immediately clean the area that was bitten with soap and water, and disinfect the skin with rubbing alcohol.
Don’t let ticks bother you and your family this summer. Educate yourself about these pests, prevent their attack where you can, and make sure you are prepared to deal with them should the need arise!