When should you see a doctor about a tick bite?
When should you see a doctor about a tick bite?
- 1 When should you see a doctor about a tick bite?
- 2 Tick Bite
- 3 Is this your child’s symptom?
- 4 When to Call for Tick Bite
- 5 Seattle Children’s Urgent Care Locations
- 6 Care Advice
- 7 Ticks And Lyme Disease: 3 Factors Determine Risk Of Infection
- 8 What to do if your child gets an insect sting or bite
- 9 Lyme Disease: Separating Fact From Myth
- 10 Myth #1: Lyme disease happens only in the Northeast U.S.
- 11 Myth #2: If it’s Lyme disease, you’ll see a bull’s-eye rash.
- 12 Myth #3: Your child is safe from Lyme if he avoids wooded areas.
- 13 Myth #4: Blood-test results for Lyme are reliable.
- 14 Myth #5: A bite from an infected tick always leads to Lyme.
- 15 Myth #6: You can catch Lyme from your dog.
- 16 Myth #7: Lyme disease is very hard to cure.
- 17 Myth #8: Even when it’s properly treated, Lyme disease can cause lasting neurological problems.
- 18 Myth #9: If your child is being tested for Lyme, she should be tested for all tick-related diseases.
- 19 The Right Way to Remove a Tick
See a doctor immediately if the tick has burrowed into skin or if the head, mouthparts, or other tick remains cannot be removed.
Otherwise, see a doctor if:
- You think it might be a deer tick, which is especially prevalent in the Northeast U.S. Your doctor may prescribe a single dose of an antibiotic to help prevent Lyme disease.
- You develop flu-like symptoms including fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, and muscle aches, or a rash within one month after the bite. Take the tick to the health care provider’s office or the hospital if possible.
- The bite area develops a lesion within 30 days. A sign of Lyme disease infection is a «bullseye» rash in which the center becomes clearer as the redness moves outward in a circular pattern.
- There are signs of infection such as redness, warmth, or inflammation.
From: Tick Bite Treatment WebMD Medical Reference
Reviewed by Sabrina Felson on January 15, 2018
Is this your child’s symptom?
- A tick (small brown bug) is attached to the skin
- A tick was removed from the skin
Symptoms of a Tick Bite
- A tick bite does not cause pain or itch. So, ticks may not be noticed for a few days.
- After feeding on blood, ticks get swollen and easier to see.
- Ticks fall off on their own after sucking blood for 3 to 6 days.
- After the tick comes off, a little red bump may be seen.
- The red bump or spot is the body’s response to the tick’s saliva (spit).
- While it’s sucking blood, some of its spit gets mixed in.
Causes of Tick Bites
- The wood tick (dog tick) is the size of an apple seed. After feeding, it can double or triple in size. Sometimes, it can pass on Rocky Mountain spotted fever or Colorado tick fever.
- The deer tick is the size of a poppy seed. After a feeding, it can triple in size. Sometimes, it can pass on Lyme disease.
- Over 95% of people who get Lyme disease live in or have traveled to 14 high-risk states. Lyme disease mainly occurs in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and upper Midwest. Many states do not have Lyme disease. The CDC reports over 30,000 new cases per year (2015).
- About 80% of Lyme disease starts with a bull’s eye rash called erythema migrans. The rash starts at the site of the tick bite. It starts on the average at 7 days. It grows larger quickly, to more than 2 inches (5 cm) wide. It can become as large as 12 inches (30 cm). It lasts 2 or 3 weeks. Treatment of this rash with an antibiotic is advised. This almost always prevents the later stages of Lyme Disease. If Lyme Disease isn’t treated, heart, joint and neurologic problems can occur.
- Giving antibiotics after deer tick bites to prevent Lyme Disease depends on the risk. The risk is low with brief attachment. The risk is high if the deer tick was attached for longer than 36 hours. It’s also higher if the tick is swollen, not flat. Ask your doctor for advice.
- The risk of Lyme Disease after a deer tick bite is low. Even in high risk areas, only 2% of deer tick bites cause Lyme Disease.
When to Call for Tick Bite
Call Doctor or Seek Care Now
- Can’t remove the tick after trying this care advice
- Widespread rash starts 2 to 14 days after the bite
- Fever or headache starts 2 to 14 days after the bite
- Fever and bite looks infected (spreading redness)
- Weak, droopy eyelid, droopy face or crooked smile
- Your child looks or acts very sick
- You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent
Contact Doctor Within 24 Hours
- Deer tick was attached for more than 36 hours
- Deer tick is swollen, not flat
- New redness starts more than 24 hours after the bite. Note: bacterial infection is rare. It does not start until at least 24-48 hours after the bite.
- More than 48 hours since the bite and redness now getting larger
- Red-ring or bull’s eye rash occurs around a deer tick bite. Note: the rash of Lyme disease starts 3 to 30 days after the bite.
- You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent
Contact Doctor During Office Hours
- You have other questions or concerns
Self Care at Home
- Wood tick bite
- Deer tick bite
- Preventing tick bites
Seattle Children’s Urgent Care Locations
If your child’s illness or injury is life-threatening, call 911.
Treating Tick Bites
- What You Should Know About Wood Tick Bites:
- Most wood tick bites are harmless.
- The spread of disease by wood ticks is not common.
- If the tick is still attached to the skin, it needs to be taken off.
- Try one of the methods described below to take out the tick.
- Wood Tick — How to Remove with Tweezers:
- Use tweezers. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible (on its head).
- Hold the tweezers sideways next to the top of the skin.
- Pull the wood tick straight upward without twisting or crushing it.
- Keep a steady pressure until the tick lets go of its grip.
- If you don’t have tweezers, you can use your fingers.
- Other options. You can use a loop of thread around the jaws. You can also use a needle pushed between the jaws for traction. Jaws are the part of the head attached to the skin.
- Not helpful: Covering the tick with petroleum jelly or nail polish doesn’t work. Neither does rubbing alcohol or a soapy cotton ball. Touching the tick with a hot or cold object also doesn’t work.
- What You Should Know About Deer Tick Bites:
- Most deer tick bites are harmless.
- The spread of disease by deer ticks is not common.
- Even in high risk areas, only 2% of deer tick bites cause Lyme disease.
- Most people who get Lyme disease live in or have traveled to 14 high-risk states. Lyme disease mainly occurs in the Northeast and upper Midwest. Many states do not have Lyme disease.
- Deer Tick — How to Remove:
- If it is swollen, try to remove with a tweezers. See wood tick advice.
- Tiny deer ticks need to be scraped off.
- You can remove them with the edge of a credit card.
- Tick’s Head — When to Remove:
- If the wood tick’s head (mouth parts) breaks off in the skin, remove any large pieces.
- Clean the skin with rubbing alcohol.
- Use a clean tweezers or needle to scrape it off.
- If a small piece remains, the skin will slowly heal and shed it.
- Antibiotic Ointment:
- After the tick is removed, wash the wound with soap and water. Also, wash your hands after you are done.
- This helps to prevent catching any infections carried by the tick.
- Use an antibiotic ointment (such as Polysporin). No prescription is needed.
- Put it on the bite once.
- What to Expect:
- Most often, tick bites don’t itch or hurt.
- That’s why they may not be noticed.
- The little bump goes away in 2 days.
- If the tick transferred a disease, a rash will occur. It will appear in the next 4 weeks.
- Call Your Doctor If:
- You tried and can’t remove the tick
- Fever or rash happens in the next 4 weeks
- Bite starts to look infected
- You think your child needs to be seen
- Your child becomes worse
Prevent Tick Bites
- Prevent Tick Bites:
- After being outdoors in deer tick areas, check for ticks. Remove any that are attached. Also, take a shower soon after coming inside.
- Tumble any clothing in a hot dryer for 10 minutes. That should kill any ticks left in the clothing.
- When hiking outside where there are ticks, wear long clothing. Tuck the ends of pants into socks.
- Use a bug repellent to shoes, socks and exposed skin.
- Tick Repellent for Clothing — Permethrin:
- Permethrin products (such as Duranon) work well to repel ticks.
- Unlike DEET, these products are put on clothing instead of skin. They also can last through many washes. Use it on pant cuffs, socks and shoes. You can also put it on other outdoor items (bug netting, sleeping bags).
- Do not put it on skin. Reason: Sweat changes it so it does not work.
- Tick Repellent for Skin — DEET:
- DEET also works well to repel ticks. It can be used on the skin not covered by clothing.
- Use 20-30% DEET for children and teens (AAP). Note: 30% DEET protects for 6 hours.
- DEET is approved for use in children over 2 months of age (AAP).
And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the ‘Call Your Doctor’ symptoms.
Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
Last Reviewed: 04/24/2020
Last Revised: 03/21/2020
Copyright 2000-2020 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC.
Ticks And Lyme Disease: 3 Factors Determine Risk Of Infection
A blacklegged tick like this one can be hard to spot. Scott Camazine/Science Source hide caption
A blacklegged tick like this one can be hard to spot.
Editor’s note: This story was updated on July 25 to include additional information about the length of time a tick must be attached to transmit Lyme disease bacteria.
So you’ve found a tick, and it’s sucking your blood.
After an initial wave of revulsion, you carefully remove it with a pair of tweezers. Now you’re probably wondering: What’s the chance I have Lyme disease?
Nick Berndt found himself in that exact situation earlier this summer. Berndt, 26, of Lancaster, Pa., felt a tick attached to his scalp three days after disc golfing in a forest near his home.
«Obviously, Lyme disease was my main concern with it,» Berndt says. «It’s not something I wanted to mess around with.»
Berndt spent his childhood in southeast Pennsylvania but moved to California to study business administration at San Diego State. After graduation, he stayed in Southern California to manage a photography business, but he missed being close to his family and moved back to Lancaster in June.
Berndt had experience with ticks growing up in Pennsylvania, and he knew Lyme was a local threat. But he was unsure whether this particular tick posed a significant risk.
Berndt’s situation isn’t unique, says Thomas Mather, a professor of public health entomology at University of Rhode Island and the director of Tick Encounter, a free service that connects tick-bite victims with tick experts. Mather estimates that ticks bite millions of Americans each year, but only 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention annually.
How do you know if your particular bite represents a high-risk case?
Shots — Health News
Lyme Disease Is On The Rise Again. Here’s How To Prevent It
As it turns out, the chance of catching Lyme disease from an individual tick ranges from zero to roughly 50 percent, according to Mather. The exact probability depends on three factors: the tick species, where it came from and how long the tick was feeding.
First, Mather says it’s important to identify the species of tick.
Only two species of tick transmit Lyme disease, both from the genus Ixodes. The blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis), often referred to as the deer tick, is found throughout the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains. The Western blacklegged tick (Ixodes pacificus) is found west of the Rockies.
Adults of both species have reddish-black bodies and are about the size of a sesame seed — smaller than most other ticks. As juveniles, they’re even tinier — roughly the size of a poppy seed.
If you’ve been bitten by something other than a blacklegged tick, you can stop worrying about Lyme. But Mather cautions that you may be at risk for other, less common infections, like Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Even if a blacklegged tick bit you, there’s still a good chance you’re OK. That’s because only a fraction of blacklegged ticks carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.
Where you live determines how many blacklegged ticks are carrying Lyme. A recent study found that in the Northeast and Upper Midwest, up to 50 percent of blacklegged ticks are infected. But in the South and West, infection rates are usually less than 10 percent.
If you’ve been bitten by a blacklegged tick carrying Lyme you still might not get sick, says Rick Ostfeld, a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in New York.
«The probability that it [Lyme disease] is transmitted to you . depends on the length of feeding,» Ostfeld says. «It looks like something on the order of 24 hours is required before transmission occurs.»
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gives a longer time frame for transmission. «In most cases, the tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours or more before the Lyme disease bacterium can be transmitted,» the CDC website says.
Alison Hinckley, a CDC epidemiologist specializing in Lyme disease, said several studies show that a tick «needs to be attached for 48 to 72 hours to even be able to transmit the infection to a person.»
Within a day of discovering the tick, Berndt submitted photographs and information about his case to Tick Encounter. Within 24 hours, a specialist informed Berndt that his case posed a high risk of Lyme disease.
Goats and Soda
Forbidding Forecast For Lyme Disease In The Northeast
Why was Berndt’s tick so risky? First, it was a blacklegged tick, a known carrier of Lyme disease bacteria. Second, the tick was in southeast Pennsylvania, where relatively large proportions of ticks are infected (Mather estimates that the Lancaster area has a 20-25 percent infection rate). Finally, the tick had been feeding for three days, much longer than the transmission threshold of 24 hours.
As a precaution, Berndt went to a doctor and started an antibiotic regimen. He also paid a lab to have the tick tested.
Fortunately, the test came back negative for Lyme disease.
«I think the $50 [for the test] was worth it, just to be able to say ‘No, it definitely wasn’t carrying it,’ » Berndt says.
Even though Berndt’s tick tested negative, Mather says it’s still a good idea for people like Berndt to be on the lookout for Lyme symptoms. That’s because they could have gotten other tick bites that went unnoticed.
But Mather stresses that not everyone who finds a tick on their body needs to worry. Many cases have a low probability of causing disease.
«There was one woman, she was nursing a 12-week-old baby and said, ‘I just scraped this off my back and I’m scared,’ » Mather says. «In her case, it was a barely attached American dog tick. We could tell her, ‘You’re probably fine.’ «
Correction July 24, 2018
An earlier version of this story said incorrectly that Thomas Mather is a professor at Rhode Island University. He is on the faculty of the University of Rhode Island.
What to do if your child gets an insect sting or bite
You’re on a walk with your family and- ouch! Something stings your little one! Insect stings hurt and can be very scary. Though they can usually be managed at home, it is good to become familiar with the different types of insect stings and bites, and when it is an emergency.
First – Remove the Stinger
Insects use a stinger which can sometimes be left inside the body. The first thing to do is remove the stinger if it is still there. After that, you want to monitor your child for an allergic reaction to the sting.
When is it a medical emergency?
Look out for the following, which usually indicate that your child is having an allergic reaction. Usually, if they are going to happen, these things will occur soon after the bite or sting. Keep an eye out for these for a few hours:
- Wheezing or difficulty breathing.
- Change in voice or hoarseness.
- Swelling, especially their face, lips, or tongue.
- Dizziness or fainting.
- Previously having an anaphylactic reaction to a similar sting.
Was it a dangerous bug? If you suspect that the bite was from a dangerous insect such as the black widow spider or brown recluse spider, you must take your child to be seen immediately.
It’s not an emergency – what should I do?
Most of the time, the area around the sting will turn red and hurt. It can look a bit nasty and get decently swollen. Although it is not pleasant, this is not an emergency. Here’s how you can help the swollen painful area:
- Wash the area with soap and water.
- Keep the area clean.
- Try not to let your child scratch it! (We know this is easier said than done).
- Apply anti-itch medicine, like a cortisone cream or calamine lotion.
What about tick bites?
Ticks live in the grass and bushes. Like us, they prefer shady areas. SOME ticks, not all, can spread Lyme disease when they bite, but only if it has been attached to the skin for a long time (usually 36-48 hours). If your child is bitten by a tick, remove it with tweezers and be sure to get all of its parts out. SAVE THE LITTLE BUGGER! You can compare it with pictures to see what kind of tick it is and what diseases it may carry.
If you live in an area with a high prevalence of ticks, teach your kids about ticks and lyme disease and encourage them to check themselves in the shower after playing outside. If they’re young, (or you suspect they aren’t checking well), check your kids yourself. Make sure to especially check their armpits, hair and around their waist-line.
How do I prevent my kids from getting bitten or stung?
Here are some simple precautions to prevent little critters from getting to you and your kids:
- Wear bug spray. Some folks worry about the chemicals in bug spray, but it’s much better to use bug spray than to end up with Lyme Disease. You should use bug spray just like your kids do, since they’ll be more likely to do it next time if they see you doing it.
- Wear protective clothing. Cover up with shoes, long sleeves and long pants when you go somewhere where you know it’s likely there are insects. If you’re in an area with a lot of lyme disease and your kids like to play outside, keep an eye on what your kids are wearing!
- Check your kids for ticks when they come home at the end of the day.
- Teach your childto recognize beehives and wasps’ nests, and to slowly back away when they see one.
- Avoid ant mounds, and teach your children not to play with ants.
Lyme Disease: Separating Fact From Myth
Do you know your child’s risk of getting Lyme disease? It’s time to separate truth from fiction about this confusing illness.
In late 2013, Virginia Gambale’s 8-year-old twins were diagnosed with Lyme disease, although each of them had very different signs and symptoms. Her son, Hagen, had a red rash on his back that was initially diagnosed as cellulitis, a common skin infection. He soon developed severe knee pain, sweats that would wake him up at night, and memory and concentration problems. «He’d say, ‘Mom, I feel like I’m living in a fog!’ » says Gambale, of Westport, Connecticut. Her daughter, Olivia, meanwhile, was experiencing pounding headaches and extreme rage. At first, Gambale figured Olivia was just going through a rude phase. Lyme disease had been on her radar because they live in an area where it’s common, but like many parents, Gambale still harbored misconceptions about the disease’s symptoms and natural course. «It can be very difficult to figure out what’s going on because I found that a lot of physicians don’t know how to identify Lyme,» she explains.
A bacterial infection that’s transmitted by black-legged ticks and named after the Connecticut town where an outbreak was first discovered, Lyme disease can be particularly hard to diagnose. The tiny deer ticks that carry it are hard to see, and you often don’t even realize that your child has been bitten. «Most people who get Lyme disease never see a tick,» says Eugene Shapiro, M.D., professor of pediatrics, epidemiology of microbial diseases, and investigative medicine at the Yale School of Medicine. And many of its signs and symptoms — fever, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and headaches — are the same as those of many other illnesses.
Lyme disease has risen in recent decades. Some experts point to suburban sprawl and evolving weather patterns; humid weather creates an increase in suitable habitats for ticks. Roughly 300,000 cases are diagnosed in the U.S. every year, found studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s about ten times higher than the numbers actually reported to the CDC by state health departments and the District of Columbia. Boys ages 5 to 9 make up the greatest number of reported cases, although no one can definitively explain why.
«People are afraid of Lyme disease, but they often think it’s out of their control,» explains Thomas Mather, Ph.D., director of the TickEncounter Resource Center and professor of public health and entomology at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston. It’s not. In fact, many of the myths about the condition may be preventing you from sufficiently protecting your kids. We’ve debunked nine of the biggest ones here.
Myth #1: Lyme disease happens only in the Northeast U.S.
While the disease is most heavily concentrated throughout the Northeast and Midwest, there have also been thousands of cases diagnosed in California, Texas, and Florida. In fact, no state has been untouched by Lyme disease. This may be because the disease-carrying ticks have migrated, but people can also become infected with Lyme while visiting another state and then come home with the disease.
Myth #2: If it’s Lyme disease, you’ll see a bull’s-eye rash.
Seventy to 80 percent of people who are infected with Lyme disease develop a red rash where they were bitten, three to 30 days later. But it may not be the bull’s-eye kind we hear about; it can be an oval-shaped redness, says Leonard Sigal, M.D., a Lyme-disease expert and clinical professor of medicine and pediatrics at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Some children develop other signs of Lyme including fever, fatigue, chills and sweats, headaches, swollen lymph nodes, and muscle and joint aches. These symptoms can start a few days after the tick bite.
Myth #3: Your child is safe from Lyme if he avoids wooded areas.
«Most bites occur in backyards, especially if there are woods or wooded areas nearby,» Dr. Shapiro says. You’re not necessarily safe if you don’t have deer in your area, either. Chipmunks, mice, and birds can all carry the types of ticks that transmit Lyme disease.
Experts recommend everyone, regardless of location, protect themselves from Lyme. Clear away tall grasses and brush from around your home and the edge of your lawn; place a 3-foot-wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between your yard and adjacent wooded areas; mow grass and rake leaves often; stack wood neatly in a dry area. You don’t need to treat your lawn with pesticides; ticks reside in the leaf clutter at the edge of the woods.
Instead, use repellents containing permethrin on your child’s clothing and shoes — not on skin. (Permethrin remains on clothing through several washings.) «If a tick does latch on, it’ll quickly fall off and die,» says Dr. Mather. It’s safe to use repellents that contain a 10 percent to 30 percent concentration of DEET directly on the skin of kids older than 2 months. If weather permits, have your child wear a long-sleeved shirt tucked into long pants, which are then tucked into socks. At the end of the day, have him strip, and dry his clothes on high heat for ten minutes before washing them. Examine your child naked (especially in the groin area, buttocks, armpits, and above the scalp line) for any new marks the size of freckles. That’s how small deer ticks are.
Myth #4: Blood-test results for Lyme are reliable.
It’s not unusual for kids and adults to get a negative test result shortly after becoming infected. «The body’s immune system can take up to three to four weeks to mount a response by making antibodies,» Dr. Sigal says. The CDC recommends a two-step blood-testing process — an enzyme immunoassay followed by a «Western blot» test if the first step is positive or inconclusive — to look for antibodies against the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. (The same blood sample can be used for both tests.) It takes three to four weeks after infection for the two-step test to be positive. If your child gets both tests, a false-positive result is less likely. However, if your child has the bull’s-eye rash, she should start antibiotics right away, Dr. Sigal says.
Myth #5: A bite from an infected tick always leads to Lyme.
«If the tick is attached but not engorged with blood, the likelihood of getting Lyme is very low,» says Dr. Sigal. While it isn’t known what percentage of tick bites cause Lyme disease, in the Northeast and Upper Midwest areas of the U.S. up to 60 percent of adult black-legged ticks carry Lyme bacteria, and about 25 percent of nymphs (immature ticks) are infected, says Dr. Mather.
Myth #6: You can catch Lyme from your dog.
During a routine exam in 2011, our vet drew our dog Inky’s blood to check for heartworm and other hidden infections. A few days later, we found out that Inky, an Akita mix, had Lyme disease. We were stunned: We’d never found a tick on him, he didn’t have any obvious symptoms, and we don’t often take him into tall grass or wooded areas. My two sons were worried about his health — and whether they could catch it.
It is possible to catch Lyme disease from a pet, but only if an infected tick falls off your pet and manages to crawl onto you or a family member and then bite, explains Daniel Cameron, M.D., M.P.H., president of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS). Even if your dog develops Lyme disease, like ours did, you can’t catch the infection. Still, for your dog’s sake, this is another good reason to use tick-control products on him.
Myth #7: Lyme disease is very hard to cure.
A two-to-four-week course of antibiotics cures Lyme disease in roughly 85 percent of cases if it’s detected when you notice the rash or your child first has symptoms. But if the disease has been around long enough to affect the joints and/or trigger neurological symptoms like facial palsy (paralysis or weakness in the muscles on one side of the face), treatment may need to last longer. Still, it’s true that some kids (and adults) who develop Lyme report lingering symptoms after the treatment ends. This was the case for Darlene McMahon’s son Colin, who was diagnosed with Lyme disease when he was 5. «We didn’t catch his symptoms early — the test suggested he had been infected for at least a year,» says McMahon, of Queensbury, New York.
The typical course of antibiotics wasn’t enough to end the joint pain, fatigue, headaches, light sensitivity, and facial tics that were making him miserable. Colin, who turns 9 this month, was treated with a combination of two different antibiotics for nearly three years before he was symptom-free. After Colin’s diagnosis, McMahon started the Children’s Lyme Disease Network (childrenslymenetwork.org).
Even with treatment, a small percentage of people get what’s called post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS), although it’s less common in kids and Colin was never diagnosed with it. This includes ongoing fatigue, joint and muscle aches, sleep disturbances, and cognitive problems that can last six months or longer. The exact cause is not yet known, but many medical experts believe that it stems from residual damage to the body’s tissues and immune system, even though there’s no evidence of ongoing infection.
Doctors hotly debate the use of long-term antibiotic treatment for such lingering symptoms. Some are concerned that ongoing antibiotic therapy may cause unnecessary side effects (such as stomach upset, infections in the gut, and allergic reactions) and increase the chances that other infections will develop resistance to antibiotics, says Dr. Sigal. With time, PTLDS almost always goes away on its own, he adds. Remember, though: If another infected tick bites your child, he could get Lyme disease again.
Myth #8: Even when it’s properly treated, Lyme disease can cause lasting neurological problems.
There’s no solid evidence linking Lyme with autism and ADHD. But some of the neurological symptoms of Lyme disease can affect a child’s behavior, concentration, memory, and thinking abilities, Dr. Sigal says. This is because infections trigger the release of inflammation-promoting proteins that can profoundly affect brain function. The good news is these symptoms go away when a child gets better, says Dr. Shapiro. In fact, a study from Austria found that in kids treated for neurological symptoms of Lyme disease, their intellectual skills and memory were back to normal within four months.
It’s true that some Lyme-carrying ticks can transmit several other diseases, which means that your child could get a double dose of illness from a bite (called a coinfection). Even so, doctors don’t recommend testing for these other diseases as a matter of course, in part because coinfections are not very common.
After a few weeks of taking antibiotics, Virginia Gambale’s twins, now 10, became symptom-free. But then last fall, Hagen’s joint and muscle pain and Olivia’s headaches returned with a vengeance. Both children were overcome with fatigue too. So Gambale took them back to the doctor, and blood tests soon revealed that the twins had also been infected with another tickborne bacterium. After being given stronger antibiotics, the kids finally feel well again.
The Right Way to Remove a Tick
When an infected tick is removed within 24 to 36 hours, there’s less chance of your child getting Lyme disease. Here’s how to remove the bugger safely:
- Grasp it firmly from the side with pointy tweezers as close to the skin as possible and gently but firmly pull it out.
- Don’t worry if part of the tick’s mouth stays in the skin. It will fall out naturally.
- Keep the tick in a plastic bag and send a picture of it to TickSpotters (tickencounter.org/tickspotters) to find out what you could be at risk for. If a rash near the bite exceeds 2 inches, see a doctor.
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