I found a tick on my daughter's arm last night. I pulled it off, but I have no idea how long it had been there, as she plays outside every day. What should I do? How do I tell if the tick gave her Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and transmitted primarily by deer ticks. In the United States, Lyme disease is most common in the Northeast, Northwest, and parts of the upper Midwest. So where you live (or travel) and what type of tick you find will help determine if your child is at risk of developing Lyme disease.
Not all deer ticks are infected with the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. And a tick that is infected has to be attached to a person's skin for at least 24-48 hours before it can transmit that bacteria. Since you don't know how long the tick was attached, watch for signs that your daughter might be developing the illness.
Many kids who have Lyme disease develop a red rash at the site of the tick bite, which sometimes has a characteristic "bull's-eye" appearance. In the week or two after the tick bite, look for an expanding ring of solid redness or a red bump surrounded by clear skin that is ringed by an expanding red rash. The rash may be accompanied by flu-like symptoms like fever, headache, fatigue, and muscle and joint aches.
If she has a bull's-eye rash or other symptoms that can happen in Lyme disease, call your doctor right away. Early diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease can prevent serious illness and long-term complications. When diagnosed quickly and given a course of antibiotics, kids with Lyme disease almost always have a good outcome.
Parents can help prevent kids from being exposed to ticks by making sure they wear protective clothing and apply insect repellant containing DEET, especially when playing in grassy or wooded areas where ticks live. Check kids for ticks every day.
Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: September 2015
|Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The CDC (the national public health institute of the United States) promotes health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability.|
|American Lyme Disease Foundation This organization is dedicated to advancing the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and control of Lyme disease.|
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|American Academy of Family Physicians This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.|
|First Aid: Tick Bites While most tick bites are harmless and don't require medical treatment, some ticks do carry harmful germs. Find out what to do if your child is bitten by a tick.|
|Evaluate Your Child's Lyme Disease Risk Does the threat of Lyme disease make you think your kids would be safer in your living room than in the great outdoors? Find out how to evaluate a child's Lyme disease risk.|
|Lyme Disease Lyme disease can affect the skin, joints, nervous system, and other organ systems. If diagnosed quickly and treated with antibiotics, Lyme disease in kids is almost always treatable.|
|Are Insect Repellents With DEET Safe for Kids? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|Bug Bites and Stings In most cases, bug bites and stings are just nuisances. But in some cases, they can cause infections and allergic reactions. It's important to know the signs, and when to get medical attention.|
|Woods and Camping Safety for the Whole Family A family camping trip can be an enjoyable experience with a little preparation.|
|Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Rocky Mountain spotted fever is an infection transmitted by ticks. Find out more about it - including how to prevent it.|
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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