Kids & Ticks

As an outdoor family, we have had our fair share of experience with ticks.  My husband and I have both found on us and removed ticks many times after spending time in the woods.  Gratefully, we have not had any issues or problems arise from tick bites in our experience.  Our dogs are checked often as well and we regularly update their flea & tick treatments to try to keep them safe. 

It is one thing to be grossed out from finding a tick on yourself, quite another when you find the first tick on your child - which we had the joy of crossing that outdoor family milestone last year when our son was 3years old.  

We were playing outside in the dirt (not really in the woods, but near a weed-filled part of our yard, and afterwards, I let the kids "shower" outside with the hose since it was a really hot day and we have no neighbors.  We went inside then to put on clean clothes for lunch when Greyson announce, "Mum, we have a big problem."  He had noticed a spot that he couldn't remove on his private area and upon closer inspection, I saw that it was in fact a tick.  The tick was very easy for me to remove (it had not burrowed, just clinging on) and I immediately bagged it and called our pediatrician.  We set up a check-up just in case, but since the tick had not been burrowed in for at least 24 hours, the doctor was confident that he would be fine and to just watch for any fevers or rashes. 

Since our first kid-tick encounter, Greyson has had two more ticks since then; most recently only a few days ago (apparently the cold weather did not lessen the tick population in western PA!) Our 2year old Gemma has not had any yet, but it does seem that some people just are more prone to ticks than others.  We call Greyson a "Tick Magnet," not quite as cool as being a 'chick magnet.' 

Since we don't want our kids to be afraid to go outside, we approach the topic of ticks with a matter-of-fact tone.  Our kids know that ticks drink blood for their food and they can drink animal or people blood.  They know ticks live in the woods and in tall grass and that we need to check our bodies (and our pets) when we come in from playing outside.  They know that the ticks need to come off and it won't hurt much to remove them.  And we know that if we are certain a tick has been fully removed within 24 hours, that we are in the clear of potential problems. *

size comparison text pic for my husband at work.  

size comparison text pic for my husband at work.  

The fortunate thing about having very young children, is that we are already doing a daily body check for bruises anyway that it is easy to also make that a tick check.  If you have kids that are slightly older (tweens and teens) that might have a little more body modesty, it is important to remind them to thoroughly check themselves out after being outside; in the woods and tall grass to make sure they are tick free.  Also, try to encourage kids to wear long pants and shirts in the woods to try to cover up to prevent ticks from getting onto their skin.  

The best advice that we have is to try to educate your kids (as early as possible) about being aware of ticks and their own bodies.  If it's less of a scary (or icky) thing, then kids will continue to enjoy the outdoors while also being careful to keep their bodies safe from these tiny dangers.

*This post was written with the assumption that a general knowledge about ticks is already in place for the reader.  If you have more questions about what a tick looks like, how to remove one, or other inquiries, please see the following articles.  If ever concerned though - call your doctor or pediatrician to ask questions or schedule a check-up. 

Healthy Children:  How to remove a tick

CDC:  Stop Ticks

What to Expect:  Treating tick bites in Children

Kids' Health:  How to watch for Lyme Disease after removing a tick