Children enjoy playing in wooded areas and around pets. While this is a healthy activity for your toddler, it is important to look over your child when he comes inside to make sure he does not have a tick bite. Most tick bites are harmless and do not require medical attention, although some ticks may transmit bacteria to your toddler that could result in medical complications if not treated properly.
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Part of the arachnid family, a tick attaches itself to the skin of an animal or person and sucks blood. Ticks can be found almost everywhere, and there are numerous kinds. The most often talked about ticks include the dog tick and deer tick. The dog tick is large and easy to find while the deer tick is as small as a pencil point.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a bacterial infection transmitted to people by tick bites. This infection is common in the southeastern part of the United States and occurs more often between April and early September when ticks are active. This infection is rare, but can be serious if not treated properly. The bacteria Rickettsia rickettsii is transmitted by the dog tick in the eastern United States and by the wood tick in the Rocky Mountain states. This bacteria causes red dots on the wrists, ankles, soles and palms. It can also cause fever, vomiting, nausea, chills and muscle aches. Treatment includes antibiotics, and toddlers normally recover without any complications. A lack of treatment or late treatment may cause serious health problems involving the heart, brain and lungs.
Lyme disease is transmitted primarily by deer ticks and is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. According to Kids Health, Lyme disease normally occurs in the Northwest, Northeast and parts of the upper Midwest. A tick infected with this bacteria must be attached to your toddler for at least 24 to 48 hours before it can transmit the bacteria to your toddler. Symptoms of Lyme disease include a bull's eye rash, red bumps ringed by an expanding rash. Your toddler may also have flu-like symptoms including fever, fatigue, headache and joint and muscle aches. Early diagnosis of Lyme disease and treatment with antibiotics can prevent serious illness and long-term complications.
To remove a tick attached to your toddler's skin, you should use a fine-tipped tweezer and grasp the head of the tick close to the skin. Firmly pull the tick straight out of the skin without twisting or rocking side to side. It is a good idea to put the tick in a container and save it to show your doctor if your toddler becomes ill. According to Kids Health, you should not use petroleum jelly or a hot match to remove the tick. After removing the tick, you need to wash your hands and the site of the bite with warm soap and water and swab the skin with alcohol.
To prevent your child from getting a tick, your toddler should always wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when playing in wooded areas. After playing outside, you should check your toddler's skin and hair, especially the scalp, neck, under the arms and behind the ears. Using an insect repellent and avoiding tick-infested areas will also help your child avoid getting ticks.
If you think the tick may have been on your child for over 24 hours, you should contact your doctor. Also contact your doctor if part of the tick remains in the skin after you have attempted to remove it, if the bite area looks infected or your child has fever or other flu-like symptoms. According to MayoClinic.com, you should call 911 if your child has a severe headache, paralysis, difficulty breathing or chest pains and heart palpitations.