5 Ways To Prevent & Treat Tick Bites

Back in March, I saw an NPR story about the Lyme disease forecast in the Northeast and TOTALLY. FREAKED. OUT. I think in particular, the 2001 vs. 2015 Lyme disease spread maps were the real freak out catalyst! Adding fuel to this freak out, 1) I have heard several local friends reporting on ticks, 2) we found one on Violet this spring (agh!), and 3) when I posted about my aging lady problems recently, a number of people suggested that it might be Lyme disease. We were in the woods of Vermont and New Hampshire over Memorial Day weekend and I have never been so vigilant about tick checks!

I'm subsequently super excited that Lynne Karlson, MD, Chief of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center, is joining me today to share tips for preventing tick bites and what to do if you find a tick on your child. Here are Dr. Karlson's 5 tips:

1. Cover up

Coverage is key! Wear light, breathable layers offering as much coverage as possible. In particular, wear long pants tucked into your socks, and cover up your feet (no sandals, or wear socks inside your sandals) in the woods.

2. Use repellent

Many parents understandably want to opt for natural repellents, but if you want to prevent tick bites, use insect repellent containing DEET. Only repellents containing DEET have proven effective in preventing tick bites. Note that only exposed skin needs to be sprayed, so minimize contact with the skin by covering up (per point #1).

3. Know the signs and symptoms

This isn’t exactly summery beach reading but read up so you know what ticks look like and know the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease.

4. Equip yourself

Have a pair of tick tweezers in your first aid stash to help remove the bodies of the ticks before they become completely embedded and do damage. Do not use matches to remove ticks. And if you find a tick, don’t panic! Use a gloved hand to pull it straight out. Then wash the bite with soap and water.

5. Do a daily check

Check your child every evening for ticks. In order to transmit Lyme disease, the tick must be on for greater than 24 hours so checking your kids nightly prevents Lyme disease. Note that the ticks that transmit Lyme disease are small deer ticks, not dog ticks.

About Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center

Floating Hospital for Children is the full-service children’s hospital of Tufts Medical Center, located in downtown Boston and with partnerships in the community. We provide pediatric inpatient and outpatient services in every medical and surgical specialty—from general pediatric services to the care of the most complex cancers, heart diseases and traumas. At Floating Hospital for Children, our patients are our inspiration, and they prove to us every day that you don’t have to be big to be strong. For more information on keeping your kids healthy and strong, visit www.floatinghospital.org.

Disclaimer: The content provided in this post is intended solely for the information of the reader. This information is not medical advice and should not replace a consultation with a medical professional.

Disclosure: This post reflects a compensated editorial partnership with Tufts Medical Center. All personal commentary about my tick-related freak outs are, of course, my own.

Feature image: Photo by Zack Silver on Unsplash