05 May, 18 Ticks and Lyme Disease

Warm weather is arriving, which means that tick season is starting.  Lyme disease is spread by deer ticks, which are found in our area.  Deer ticks live in grassy, wooded, brushy areas and can be very small (see picture below).  Ticks typically must be attached for 36 hours or longer to spread lyme disease; promptly removing ticks can prevent linfection.  Lyme disease can affect your skin, heart, nerves, and joints.  Lyme disease can be effectively treated with antibiotics.  However, not all tick bites require antibiotics.  The American Academy of Pediatrics, the Infectious Disease Society of America, and the Centers for Disease Control issue guidelines as to when treat tick bites that we follow closely so that children are not exposed to unnecessary antibiotics.     

 

After a tick has been attached and removed, a person often experiences redness where the tick was attached.  This is from the tick's saliva while it was attached and is a normal reaction.  It can be compared to when a person gets bitten by a deer fly and has a large red area where the fly bite occurred.  

Read below for tips, from the Vermont Department of Health, that can help you deal ticks:

 

While outdoors

  • As much as possible, avoid high grass and bushy areas; stay on hiking trails.

  • Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts to minimize skin exposure to ticks.

  • Tuck your pants into your socks to form a barrier to tick attachment.

  • Wear light-colored clothing to help see ticks on your clothing.

  • Check for ticks, looking particularly for what may look like nothing more than a new freckle or speck of dirt, and remove ticks promptly (see below).

  • Use an effective tick repellent on your skin or on your clothing. There are several repellents that are effective against ticks. Repellents should not be used on infants under 2 months of age. Read the label carefully and use according to the recommendations.

  • Permethrin is an insecticide that can be applied to clothing or gear. If you spend a lot of time in tick habitat, wearing permethrin-treated clothing can be very effective at reducing your exposure to ticks.

  • Take extra precautions in May, June, and July as this is when most tick bites can occur. 

After you come inside

  • Check your or your child’s body for ticks, and remove them promptly. Pay special attention to the head, armpits, and groin area.

  • Showering within a few hours of being outside may also be helpful.

The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to prevent tick bites.

 

It is okay if the tick's head is not removed.  Lyme disease is contained in the tick's stomach. As long as the body is removed from the head, lyme disease cannot be transmitted.  If the head is not removed, a person's body will expel the head in a few days.

We also have Tick Twisters, a safe and easy tick removal tool, available for sale at the office.  Please ask any member of the Rainbow team about purchasing one if you are interested.

For more information on Lyme Disease and how to prevent it, please visit the Vermont Department of Health and the AAP Healthy Children website

Image credits: Vermont Department of Health