Lyme Disease and Children: What You Should Know About Tick Bites, Lyme Disease Symptoms and Treatment

Lyme disease and children: What you should know about tick bites, Lyme disease symptoms and treatment. Read more on mybergen.com

Lyme Disease is an unfortunate hazard of outdoor recreation in the North Jersey area. Children naturally spend more time outdoors in parks, backyards and grassy, wooded areas in the spring, summer and fall months. This increases the chances of being bitten by a tick and possibly developing Lyme disease.

What Bergen County Residents Should Know About Lyme Disease

  • Lyme disease is transferred to humans by bites from deer ticks, but other animals besides deer carry them, including birds and small rodents. The Board of Health recommends not placing bird feeders near your house because the animals they attract may carry deer ticks.
  • When outside, walk on clear or paved surfaces. Wear long sleeves and pants when possible with light-colored fabric to make it easier to spot ticks. Also, use insect repellents with DEET or permethrin.
  • Use flea collars on your pets and brush them after they have been outside.
  • If a tick bites you, remove it with tweezers by griping it as close to the skin as possible.

According to tenaflypediatrics.com, the following are symptoms and signs of a tick bite that might lead to Lyme Disease:

  • A tick (small brown bug) is attached to the skin
  • A tick recently was removed from the skin
  • The wood tick (dog tick) is the size of a watermelon seed and can sometimes transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Colorado tick fever
  • The deer tick is between the size of a poppy seed (pin head) and an apple seed, and can sometimes transmit Lyme disease
  • The bite is painless and doesn’t itch; so ticks may go unnoticed for a few days
  • Ticks eventually fall off on their own after sucking blood for 3 to 6 days

Early symptoms of Lyme disease include a week or two of flu-like illness and sometimes a rash. If left untreated, further complications can occur, including heart, joint and nervous system problems.

Call Your Doctor Now If…

  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • You can’t remove the tick
  • You can’t remove tick’s head that broke off in the skin (Reason: to prevent localized infection) (Note: if the removed tick is moving, it was completely removed)
  • Widespread rash occurs 2 to 14 days following the bite
  • Fever or severe headache occurs 2 to 14 days following the bite
  • Bite looks infected (red streaking from the bite area, yellow drainage) (Note: infection doesn’t start until at least 24-48 hours after the bite).

Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours If…

  • You think your child needs to be seen

Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If…

  • You have other questions or concerns
  • Red-ring or bull’s eye rash occurs around a deer tick bite (Lyme disease rash begins 3 to 30 days after the bite)

Parent Care at Home If…

  • Tick bite with no complications and you don’t think your child needs to be seen

Home Care Advice for Tick Bites from Tenafly Pediatrics

  • Reassurance: Most tick bites are harmless. The spread of disease by ticks is rare

Tick Removal

  • Use a tweezers and grasp the wood tick close to the skin (on its head)
  • Pull the wood tick straight upward without twisting or crushing it
  • Maintain a steady pressure until it releases its grip
  • If tweezers aren’t available, use fingers, a loop of thread around the jaws, or a needle between the jaws for traction
  • Tiny deer ticks need to be scraped off with a knife blade or credit card edge
  • Note: covering the tick with petroleum jelly, nail polish, or rubbing alcohol doesn’t work. Neither does touching the tick with a hot or cold object
  • Tick’s Head: If the wood tick’s head breaks off in the skin, remove it
  • Clean the skin with rubbing alcohol
  • Use a sterile needle to uncover the head and lift it out
  • If unsuccessful, call your doctor
  • Antibiotic Ointment: Wash the wound and your hands with soap and water after removal to prevent catching any tick disease. Apply antibiotic ointment to the bite once

Expected Course: Tick bites normally don’t itch or hurt. That’s why they often go unnoticed.

Call Your Doctor If…

  • You can’t remove the tick or the tick’s head
  • Fever or rash in the next 2 weeks
  • Bite begins to look infected
  • Your child becomes worse or develops any of the “Call Your Doctor” symptoms

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