There are so many ticks out there this year! It can be a tricky line to walk wanting to get the kids outdoors but also wanting to keep them safe from nasty chronic stuff like lyme disease. I talked to our ped’s office extensively about this after finding our first deer tick — which looked like a freckle — this spring and what they emphasized most was finding the ticks and getting them off within 6–8 hours to minimize chance of transmission.
These are some things that we have embraced in our family’s tick prevention campaign:
- making bath time an after-hike ritual or at least changing clothes shortly after the hike
- wearing hats (we love Sunday Afternoons hats)
- offer the kids something tasty (like a chocolate chip) if they find a tick on themselves or their siblings or you
- google lyme disease — it totally motivated me to step up our tick checks
- if you find a tick, a pair of clean tweezers is all you need for removal — forget all the crazy ways to remove ticks that we grew up with, like flames, alcohol or oil (yes, I had exciting childhood tick removal experiences)
- talk to your pediatrician if you find a tick or if you have questions
In case you need further motivation, I have an fascinating story involving a tick, a belly button — not mine or my kids’, thank goodness! — and a trip to the emergency room. I will spare you the details and just let your imagination alone motivate you to do tick checks after every hike. (Getting off soap box now.…)
If you do find a tick that has embedded itself, make sure you remove it as soon as possible. If you remove a deer tick, you may wish to keep it intact and bring it to your doctor for testing to determine whether it is a lyme disease carrier. If it is not a deer tick, what you do with the pest is entirely up to your own discretion.
Happy hiking, and don’t forget to channel your inner apes by participating in a post-hike communal tick-check grooming session!