A tick bite itself causes little discomfort, but ticks can carry serious illnesses such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
If your child is going to play in a wooded area, dress her in light clothing so that you can quickly spot any ticks. If she is over age two, apply an insect repellant containing 10 to 30 percent DEET. As soon as she leaves the wooded area, check her skin and hair for ticks.
If you spot a tick:
- Remove it from your child's skin immediately. Use tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull up slowly and gently. Don't jerk the tick out, because you might crush it (and release fluids that contain potentially infectious organisms) or lodge its head in your child's skin (if this happens, remove the remaining piece with your tweezers).
- Your child's pediatrician may want you to save the tick for identification. You can either keep it in a plastic bag in the freezer or store it in a jar of alcohol. If you decide not to keep the tick, flush it down the toilet. Always wash your hands after handling a tick.
- Clean the affected skin with alcohol or another antiseptic. DON'T try to kill a tick with petroleum jelly or a lit match. These methods don't work, and they can release even more dangerous fluids from the tick.
Call your child's doctor immediately if you notice a red ring or rash around the bite area, or if your child has a fever, muscle aches, or joint pain.