Ticks are small insects that are most prevalent during the warm months. Not all ticks transmit diseases, but those that do work by attaching to a person’s skin and feeding for 36-48 hours or longer. There is a lot of fear about tick bites and Lyme Disease in the northeast, but it is important to keep in mind that MOST TICKS ARE HARMLESS!
The best way to reduce the risk of diseases from ticks is to prevent ticks from biting or attaching to the skin.
- Insect repellent:
- Skin - 30% Deet is most effective at preventing ticks on the skin. Permethrin is not effective on skin to prevent ticks.
- Clothing – Permethrin applied to clothing and shoes is more effective at tick prevention than Deet on clothing
- Keep skin covered – especially in wooded areas or areas with long grass, wearing full length pants and tucking pants into socks is helpful
- Tick checks – everyone living in an area where ticks are common should perform nightly tick checks during the warm months. Rapid discovery and removal prevents ticks from transmitting diseases. Keep in mind that ticks are very small and love to be in warm dark places like the armpit, groin, around the ear and on the back of the neck.
Rapid detection and removal of ticks prevents the risk of disease transmission, as ticks need to be attached for approximately 48 hours in order to transmit disease. Keep in mind that not all ticks transmit diseases so just because you suspect a tick has been attached for more than 36-48 hours does not mean your child will develop Lyme disease.
The best way to remove a tick is to get a firm grasp with a good pair of tweezers as close to the skin as possible, and pull firmly. If you see a lot of ticks in your family, it might be worth investing in great pair of tweezers. It is OK if you don’t remove all of the tick. It is not worth the effort to try to remove it. It will work its way out like a small splinter. Keep the area clean and apply antibiotic ointment for a few days.
No benefit is derived from sending ticks to a lab for evaluation. If a tick is removed you can discard it like any other insect.
Tick bites are most common in the spring and summer months. The best way to reduce the risk of ticks is through prevention and quick detection.
When to call
Call our office if you are unable to remove a tick from your child, if the area of tick removal becomes red, hot and swollen or if you have any questions about tick bites or removal of ticks.
Additional information for tick bite prevention and tick removal is available from American Academy of Pediatrics and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.