Ticks. Eeew. Just the name itself conjures a generous dose of revulsion for the blood-sucking parasites; and usually, their inherent grossness is the extent of their malevolence–but sometimes, they can harbour disease-causing bacteria, too. Here’s what to do if you spot one on your child.
Ticks bide their time in tall grass, woodland and heath areas, so a family walk is prime opportunity for the critters to hitch a lift on some unsuspecting food source–especially kids, who tend to wade through overgrown spots instead of keeping to clear paths.
Make it routine to check your child after such excursions; you’ll likely find any stowaways around the waist or in the scalp/hairline. (Tick bites are painless, so the only way to determine if there’s been a bite is to look.)
Ticks start off about the size of a poppy seed. It’s only once they’ve begun to gorge on their host’s blood that they balloon to look like this:
What to do if your child is bitten by a tick:
- Grasp the tick with tweezers as close to the skin as possible and pull upwards with steady pressure.
- Try not to twist, jerk, or squeeze the insect. You need to get the whole tick out, not leaving any bits behind.
- Once you’ve removed the tick, clean bite area with antiseptic.
- Consider keeping the tick contained in case your child falls ill, so your GP can test it for Lyme disease.
Prime UK locations for tick infestations include:
- The New Forest and other rural areas of Hampshire
- The South Downs
- Parts of Wiltshire and Berkshire
- Parts of Surrey and West Sussex
- Thetford Forest in Norfolk
- The Lake District
- The North York Moors
- The Scottish Highlands
If your child develops what is known as a ‘bullseye’ rash – big, round, and red–this may be a symptom of Lyme disease contracted by a tick bite, and you should contact your doctor immediately.
For more information on ticks and treatment, see the Borreliosis and Associated Diseases Awareness UK (BADA) website.