Mommy’s Time Out: The nitty gritty on ticks and Lyme Disease prevention

It is tick season and it is a rough one, as scientists have warned that this summer could see a surge in the number of ticks present. Ticks bring serious risks for Lyme Disease.

Cumberland County mom Jill Torquato recently had a scare with ticks. After changing her 18-month-old son Anthony’s diaper, Jill played with him outside for a short time. By the time that bath time came, there was a problem.

“I went up and changed him and I noticed up near his diaper on his right thigh, tOKhere was a tick already embedded within just the few hours that I had changed it,” said Torquato.

Torquato are her husband quickly removed the tick and at the advice of their pediatrician, they are watching their son closely for what the doctor described as “strange behaviors.”

Notice that Torquato and her son were not playing playing in the woods or in tall grass, some of ticks’ favorite places, but on the sidewalk and on a neatly trimmed front lawn. The tick embedded very quickly.

“Obviously check them over every night before you go to bed, when you’re changing their diapers or when you’re getting changed for bedtime,” Torquato advised. “Just make sure you look; Just to be cautious about it.”

Good Day PA’s Carrie Perry is is the mother of a teenage daughter with Lyme Disease and also the PA Ambassador for ProjectLyme.org which advocates for prevention, awareness and early diagnosis of Lyme Disease.

Perry offered the following tips for preventing ticks from embedding on a body:

  • Permethrin: Used as an insecticide, spray as directed to fabric only. Ticks & mosquitoes can’t live on permethrin treated products.
  • Deet based repellent: The CDC says to use it directly on skin. It can also be applied to clothing.
  • Picaridin and organic repellent: Tick Tock for organic should be applied to skin only and is safe for animals. Picaridin is also safe for skin, but can be applied to fabric.
  • Use sticky tape lint roller before entering indoors, even a car, to pick up tiny ticks from clothing.
  • Perform daily tick checks, if not several times daily, based on exposure.
  • Place clothing on high heat in a dryer for 10 minutes upon entering the indoors.
  • Run your fingers through the scalp before using a brush/comb to check for ticks.
  • Always shower after repellent use.
  • Apply sunscreen before you apply repellent

To remove a tick, the internet offers varying advice, much of which may not be accurate. As an expert with ProjectLyme.org, Perry highlighted the following “don’ts.”

  • Do NOT use oils
  • Do NOT twist out the tick
  • Do NOT burn with match
  • Do NOT use Vaseline

According to Perry, the best practice for tick removal is grabbing the tick firmly at the head, as close to the skin as possible, and pulling straight up immediately. She advised that you place the tick in a baggie for your healthcare provider and/or TickReport.com or TickChek.com or similar pay-to-test sites) for testing of the tick.

If you are bit by a tick, see your provider immediately for possible antibiotics. Children and elderly are the most at risk and may present with different symptoms. Know what to look for now, so you are more aware. You may not see a tick or a tick bite area.

Symptoms may include:

  • fever
  • headache
  • nausea
  • unexplained joint or muscle pain
  • fatigue
  • rashes, not bullseye
  • partial facial paralysis (Bell’s Palsy)
  • limp limbs or inability to walk
  • confusion

You may visit ILADS.org for more symptoms, a check list and providers in your area.

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