Short Answer: If you’re wondering, “how do I check my child for ticks?” We can help! Check clothing first, then have your kids shower and do a full body scan. Read on to learn how.

Summer is the time of year we spend hiking, camping, and playing in beautiful wooded areas with our families. Unfortunately, those same beautiful areas are often prime real estate for ticks. They thrive in moist, humid, wooded environments.

Tick Facts

Ticks are small, spider-like animals that bite to fasten themselves to the skin and feed on blood. The good news? Most tick bites are harmless and don’t require medical treatment. The bad? Some ticks can carry harmful germs that cause diseases like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or Lyme Disease. So when you’re playing outside in the woods this summer, it’s a good idea to check your kids (and yourself) for ticks… just to be safe.

Some basic facts – ticks can only crawl, they cannot jump or fly. As we said, they thrive in wooded areas. Ticks can be present year-round. More people tend to come into contact with them in the summer months, because they are outdoors more often, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t out there in spring and fall too.

How Do I Check My Child For Ticks?

Ticks On Clothing

Many times, ticks make it onto your clothing (especially socks) but not necessarily your body. This means you can head them off at the pass by having your kids take off their clothes as soon as the come inside. Keep the clothes isolated and throw them in the dryer on high heat for a minimum of six minutes. This will effectively kill any critters stuck to your garments.

If the clothes are so dirty you feel like you have to wash them first, the water temperature needs to be 130 degrees F or higher. Then throw them in a high heat dryer to finish the job.

Ticks On The Body

Next, have the kiddos take a shower. It’s been shown that taking a shower within two hours of coming indoors reduces your chances of contracting lyme disease. Plus your little outdoor enthusiasts will be clean and smell nice. A win-win if you ask us.

Lastly, do a body check. For younger kids, ask them to hold their arms out in a T-position. Be sure you have plenty of light so you can see clearly. Do a full body scan, paying special attention to the following areas where ticks like to hide:

  • Scalp and hair
  • Behind the ears
  • Around the neck
  • Under the arms
  • Inside the belly button
  • Between the legs
  • Around the waist

How To Remove A Tick

If you find a tick attached to yours or your child’s skin, don’t panic. There are several tick removal devices on the market, but a plain old set of fine-tipped tweezers will remove a tick quite effectively.

Steps For Tick Removal

  1. Use a fine-tipped tweezers to firmly grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as you can.
  2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick as this can cause their mouth part to break off and get stuck in the skin.
  3. After removal, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub or soap and water.
  4. Dispose of the tick by submerging it in alcohol and then placing it in a sealed bag/container (or flushing it down the toilet). Don’t crush a tick with your fingers.

Note: Never use petroleum jelly or a hot match to kill and remove a tick. These methods don’t get the tick off the skin, and can cause it to burrow deeper and release more saliva (which increases the chances of disease transmission).

When Should I Seek Medical Attention?

If you removed the tick without incident, you’re most likely fine. Contact your health provider, however, if any of the following occurs:

  • 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 (i.e increased warmth, swelling, pain, or pus).
  • Symptoms like fever, headache, tiredness, stiff neck, or muscle/joint pain occur following a bite.

When you call your doctor, be sure to mention the tick bite. It’s also helpful to let them know where you were when the bite happened. Geography may help determine the type of tick involved. If you saved the removed tick in a bag, bring the tick with you to the doctor for identification.

Get ready to camp, hike, and play. Now that you know how to check your child for ticks, you can relax and have fun in the great outdoors.