KIDS’ SKIN HEALTH: Stay alert for tick & bug bites

This is the third article in a 6-part series on Kids’ Health Tips from Dr. Erik Bostrom, family physician at Riverwood Healthcare Center in Aitkin.

Most tick bites are harmless and don’t need medical treatment. But some ticks (deer tick, wood tick and others) can carry harmful germs that cause diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease.

The deer tick is tiny, no larger than a pencil point. Other ticks like the wood tick are larger and easier to find on the skin.

How to remove a tick from a child:

Step 1: Use tweezers to grasp the tick firmly at its head or mouth, next to the skin.

Step 2: Pull firmly and steadily until the tick lets go of the skin.

Step 3: Release the tick into a zip-locked bag in case you want to have it identified later on.

Step 4: Wash your hands and the site of the bite with soap and water.

Step 5: Swab the bite site with alcohol.

Call your healthcare provider if:

  • The tick may have been on the skin for more than 24 hours.
  • Part of the tick remains in the skin after attempted removal.
  • A rash of any kind develops (especially a red-ringed bull’s-eye rash or red dots on wrists and ankles).
  • The bite area looks infected (increasing warmth, swelling, pain, or oozing pus).
  • Symptoms like fever, headache, tiredness, stiff neck or back, or muscle or joint aches develop.

The telltale symptom of Lyme is a red bull’s-eye-shaped rash that appears within three to 30 days of the deer tick bite. Keep an eye on the site of a deer tick bite: If you see such a rash crop up, take your child to the doctor right away.

Enjoy the great outdoors this summer, and for any day spent outside, remember to do a “bug body scan” for yourself and your child.