Surrounding Missouri’s rivers, ponds and streams are beautiful landscapes and wooded areas, perfect for families to hike and explore. Unfortunately, heavily wooded areas also attract ticks. Here are some tips for removing ticks and treating tick bites should they occur on your next float trip.
If your little ones have been playing in wooded areas most of the day, it’s important to inspect for insect bites, especially from ticks before they hop into their sleeping bags for the night. A complete body scan, yep, head to toe, is essential. Start by looking in your child’s hair, behind their ears and along the neck, working your way down. Check clothing too because it’s the perfect place for a stowaway to hide.
If you do find a tick, the first thing you want to do is remove it. Ticks burrow their heads in their victim’s skin. The best way to remove a tick is with a tweezers. Firmly grasp the tick at its head as close to your child’s skin as possible, then pull steadily until it lets go. Avoid jerking or twisting the tweezers when attempting to pull out the tick or you may leave its head embedded in your child’s skin. Do not use petroleum jelly or a lighter or lit match to remove a tick. These methods do not work, are scary to children and only cause the tick to dig deeper into your child’s skin.
Once you’ve removed the tick, place the tick in a Ziploc bag. Be sure to swab the area of the tick bite with an alcohol-soaked cotton ball or pad. It’s a good idea to contact your child’s pediatrician about the tick bite. Many pediatricians will want to make sure your child doesn’t have Lyme disease. Deer ticks carry Lyme disease, a bacterial disease that’s harmful to children’s health. Lyme disease causes a red bull’s-eye-shaped rash, appearing within 3-30 days of a deer tick bite. When your child has been bitten by a deer tick bite you’ll want to keep an eye on the area for several weeks and take your child to the pediatrician right away if a rash occurs. Lyme disease is easily treated with antibiotics and works best at the first signs of infection.
When it comes to ticks, Benjamin Franklin was right when he said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” One way to protect your children from ticks is to dress them in long-sleeved shirts and long pants before they go hiking in the woods or tall grass where ticks hang out. If you or your children have been walking or playing in woods or grassy fields, check each other for ticks. Ticks thrive in moist, humid places like piles of leaves and wooded or grassy areas. Insect repellents containing 30 percent DEET or 10 percent picaridin also provide good protection against ticks. Apply the repellent to your child’s clothing and exposed skin except the hands and face. Ask your child’s doctor to recommend an insect repellent if you have safety concerns. Most insect repellents protect against mosquito, spider and tick bites.
Protecting your family and pets from ticks on your next float trip takes preparation. By wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants in wooded and grassy areas, using insect repellents containing DEET or picaridin and conducting full body scans for ticks you’re more likely to avoid tick bites and Lyme disease.