Keep Your Kids Safe from Ticks

Tick bites are on the rise. And the type of ticks that carry illnesses, such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, can be found in central Illinois.

The three major ticks to watch out for in our area are the American dog tick, lone star tick and deer ticks (a.k.a. the blacklegged tick). While these little parasites are commonly found in the woods while camping or hiking, your child can just as easily pick one up playing in the backyard.

Don’t cancel outdoor plans yet, though. After all, time spent exploring Mother Nature is one of the best parts of summer and fall. Adding one short, simple step to your daily routine will help you balance fun and keeping your family safe–a tick check.

“The tick usually has to be attached for more than 24 hours to transfer any disease agents,” said Lyndsey Thorne, an advanced practice nurse at Memorial Physician Services–Lincoln. “If you are spending time outdoors, check for ticks every 2 to 3 hours on skin and clothing. Ticks love to be covered, so don’t forget to check under the arms, around the ears, in the belly button, between the legs, behind the knees and underneath hair. If you can’t be with kids to check, then make the exam part of the nightly routine before bath. And check pets, too, since they can bring ticks into your home.”

Other Ways to Avoid Tick Bites

  • Apply insect repellent containing 10–30 percent DEET to clothes and sparingly on skin. It’s one of your best lines of defense.
  • Wear light-colored, protective clothing if you are going to a heavily wooded area. Tuck pants into socks and tape over any open areas.
  • Ticks actually hover on grass and bushes, not trees, so walk in the middle of a path when hiking.
  • Never burn a tick or cover it with petroleum jelly or nail polish. Pull it straight out with tweezers, and try not to crush the body of the tick. Wash the area with soap and water.
  • Call your doctor if a fever or rash develops after a bite. Most people who acquire tick-borne illnesses recover with antibiotics, but if not treated, it can lead to serious complications and even death.

For more information on ticks or tick-borne diseases, visit the Illinois Department of Public Health or call your primary care physician.

Lyndsey Thorne, APN, is a board certified advanced practice nurse at Memorial Physician Services–Lincoln. She attended Illinois State University for her bachelor’s and master’s in Nursing. She also serves as a registered nurse in the Illinois Army National Guard. Lyndsey is a member of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, the Illinois Society for Advanced Practice Nursing and Sigma Theta Tau, the International Honor Society of Nursing. Her areas of interest include mental and women’s health and preventative care.