Preventing and treating tick bites

Caring For Our Kids

It is tick season in East Tennessee. Ticks can be found nearly everywhere and can carry harmful germs which can make us sick. If you spot a tick on your child, don’t panic. However, removing it properly is important.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is the most common tick-borne illness seen at the Children’s Hospital emergency room, according to Children’s Hospital’s Dr. Shannon Cohen. While Lyme Disease is also seen, it is much less common.

Signs and symptoms of tick-borne illness include a red dot-like rash with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or a bulls-eye shaped rash for Lyme Disease, ,Cohen said. Flu-like symptoms, including fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting and muscle and joint aches are also signs of a tick-borne illness.

To remove a tick, follow these four steps:

  1. Use tweezers to grasp tick firmly at head or mouth next to the skin
  2. Pull firmly and steadily until tick lets go of skin (straight up and out)
  3. Wash hands and area of bite with soap and water.
  4. Swab bite site with alcohol.

Never twist the tick or rock from side to side while removing with tweezers — part of the tick can remain in the skin. And never use petroleum jelly or a hot match to kill and remove a tick. These methods don’t get the tick off the skin and can actually cause it to burrow deeper and release more saliva.

Use tick repellent for clothes or skin and always follow instructions for safe application. Never use on infants. Finally, after being outdoors, always check for ticks, change clothes and take a shower.

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