Lyme disease is often more likely to affect children in the summer months as they spend longer playing outdoors. Kids who love climbing trees, running through grass, or laying out on the lawn are at increased risk of being bitten by ticks. Keeping deer and mice off the premises and practicing good landscaping at home to create tick-barriers can all help reduce the likelihood of being bitten by a tick infected with Lyme disease. Using permethrin or other tick-repellent when out on walks is important, as is the use of light-colored clothing as a barrier to the skin, preventing ticks from biting. Ticks are tiny and can be difficult to see, particularly on darker clothes, so after playing outdoors, children should establish a routine of checking for ticks on their skin and clothing, and in their hair even if they have been lying in the grass.
Reducing Tick Exposure
There is no absolute way of preventing Lyme disease in children, and there is no human vaccine for Lyme disease currently available. It may help to vaccinate any household animals so as to reduce the risk of a tick falling off them from then transmitting the disease to other family members. Removing old wood piles, leaf piles, and other such places where mice may hibernate or hide can help reduce the risks of your children getting Lyme disease from ticks on your property. It is difficult however to avoid ticks when engaging in outdoor activities such as hiking, running, playing soccer or football, or even on school field trips in the woods. Children should wear long-pants tucked into their socks or boots to minimize the opportunity for ticks to get onto their skin. Education programmes may help kids realize that it is far cooler to be healthy with you pants tucked into your socks than it is to wear shorts and end up sick in hospital.
Walking in the center of paths can help avoid ticks lurking on overhanging grasses or branches, and those with long hair should keep it tied back or under a hat to reduce the opportunity for ticks to latch on. Sitting on the ground for a picnic also presents a chance for ticks to crawl onto clothing or skin; it can help to spray the edges of a picnic blanket with permethrin to create a barrier, although this relies on everyone staying on the center of the blanket. Checking everyone for ticks regularly can help detect a bite early, and it can also help to shower and wash clothes after being in tick-infested areas.
Using Tick Repellents for Children
If using DEET or permethrin it is important to follow the directions carefully, particularly in younger children whose exposure to toxins may trigger a reaction at a much lower dose than in adults. Permethrin should never be sprayed directly onto the skin and should be allowed to dry on clothing or other materials before these are worn.
Read on – Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Children