Tick, Bites, and Care Advice
- Dr. Page
Already in Wichita and surrounding cities, ticks have made their presence known. Hopefully, these little critters haven’t dampened your time outside! There are many different kinds of ticks and majority of their bites are harmless. True, ticks can spread illnesses but this is not common, especially in Wichita and surrounding areas. Even in high risk areas of the United States, only 2% of deer ticks cause Lyme Disease!
With that said, prevention of tick bites is important. First, start with the area around your home. Take measures to ensure you and your kids are safe from ticks when playing outside. Mow the yard frequently. Clear away tall grasses and piles of leaves where ticks can hide. Consider using a pesticide to treat areas of the yard to reduce your risk of exposure. Then, consider talking to the veterinarian for options to keep your pets safe from ticks as well. Also, know where ticks tend to live. Try to avoid grassy, wooded, brushy areas. When you go out for a walk, make sure to stay in the center of the trail. Lastly, make sure you use products that help repel insects and ticks. Check out the following link to find out which products can be used to keep your children safe AND how to apply repellents safely. Remember, you can use DEET products up to 30% starting as young as 2 months of age! https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/Pages/Insect-Repellents.aspx
After spending time outdoors, especially if you have been in high risk tick areas, check your clothing for ticks. The CDC recommends tumbling dry clothes in a dryer for 10 minutes on high heat to kill the ticks. If you need to wash clothes first, use hot water. Shower as soon as you can after coming indoors. Check for ticks on your body (especially under the arms, back of knees, between the legs, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, and scalp/hair).
If you find a tick attached, you must remove it. Myth: using petroleum jelly, soap, rubbing alcohol, ice, or hot object on the tick does NOT work to remove it. Clean the skin with alcohol. Ticks can be removed with tweezers as close to the skin as shown below. If the head is still attached, remove remaining larger pieces. If smaller pieces are still embedded, DO NOT WORRY!!! The skin will slowly heal and shed it! After you remove the tick, wash the area with warm soapy water. Apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment. In the next several days, the bite area will start to heal. If you have not been able to remove the tick, your doctor may help you do so. Over the next several weeks, call the doctor if your child develops concerning symptoms, especially fever/chills, joint pain, rash, worsening of bite area, or severe headache.