Lyme disease can affect anyone, regardless of age or gender. However, those who spend a lot of time outdoors are at a higher risk for Lyme disease because they are exposed to ticks more than others. According to research, children are more commonly affected by Lyme disease because they spend more time outside compared to adults who spend a lot of time indoors and in offices. Additionally, reported cases of Lyme disease are higher among boys than girls, typically occuring in boys who are between the ages of five years old and nine years old.
How to protect your child from tick bites
Physical activity is necessary for normal childhood development, therefore, removing your child from the outdoors as a means of protection is not wise.
The good news, however, is that a tick bite does not automatically mean that your child contracted Lyme disease. First, not all ticks are infected by spirochetal bacteria, the bacteria responsible for transmission of Lyme disease. Second, the tick must be attached to the skin for more than 24 hours for it to transfer the bacteria. It typically takes about 36 hours to transfer.
Advise your child to keep away from bushy areas. If you’re accompanying them on a walk, try to deter your child from entering a large patch of bushes and trees. Ticks cannot fly, they can only crawl, therefore, do not give ticks an opportunity to crawl on your child. Steer clear of large amounts of foliage.
Insect repellents are also available in several varieties and these will protect you from most tick bites.
When they are back home
Even by observing the steps above, a tick may still make its way onto your skin, and further action is necessary just to make sure. A shower within two hours from the time your child comes back home is advised. Besides the shower, also conduct a thorough search around his or her body, including around creases and in the hair. By showering, you reduce chances of the ticks attaching themselves to your child’s skin.
Clothing your child in lightly coloured clothing will give you a chance to spot ticks easily. However, you may not have time to go through the clothes thoroughly, drying the clothes in high heat for about six minutes will kill all the ticks that can potentially be attached. Also treating clothes with 0.5% permethrin will repel insects for a long time, even through several washes.
Ticks can also attach to pets, and while holding these pets, the deer ticks can be transferred onto the child's skin. You should often check your pets for ticks and wash them regularly to prevent them from hosting ticks.
What to do when you spot a tick
After checking and spotting a tick attached, you have to remove it before it transmits the bacteria. It’s best to use tweezers to pull the tick out of the skin, remembering to start as close to the skin as much as possible and avoiding crushing the tick’s body.
- Lyme's disease can affect anyone, at any age or gender.
- Cases of Lyme's disease are reported more among boys than girls.
- Boys from the age of 5 and 9 years old are commonly affected.