How Can You Prevent Lyme Disease
Ticks are more prevalent during the warmer months of April through September however, tick bites can occur year-round. If your child is going to spend time outdoors, especially in an area where Lyme disease is common, you should take steps to prevent tick bites.
When heading outside, children should:
- Avoid grassy, brushy or wooded areas
- Treat clothing and shoes with products containing 0.5% permethrin
- Use EPA-registered insect repellents in children under 3 years old)
- Wear long sleeves and pants as well as tall socks
After coming inside, children should:
- Check for ticks within 30 minutes especially under the arms, in the belly button, on the scalp and behind the ears
- Remove any ticks you find on the body and clean the bite with soap and water
- Take a shower after coming in from the outdoors
“Prevention is key,” says Dr. Kahn, “especially if your child is playing outside in endemic areas.”
Is It Lyme Disease Or Is It The Flu
While there are some similarities between early Lyme disease symptoms and the flu, theyre very different illnesses. Flu symptoms in babies and toddlers include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Lyme disease symptoms include joint pain, swollen lymph nodes and headache in addition to fever, chills and nausea. Lyme is also most common during the spring and summer months, when the flu is usually uncommon. Additionally, many people who get Lyme disease also have a noticeable bulls eye rash.
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.
Treatments For Lyme Disease In Kids
Your childs doctor can check for Lyme disease with lab tests. If the tests come back positive, the pediatrician will start an antibiotic treatment.
The treatment for Lyme disease is the same for babies, toddlers and children of all ages. It’s safe, and children usually respond really well to it.
Infections with less severe symptoms are usually treated for two weeks with amoxicillin. When Lyme disease causes truly swollen joints, not just pain, it can take four weeks to treat, often using doxycycline.
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Stage : Early Disseminated Lyme Disease
Early disseminated Lyme disease occurs several weeks to months after the tick bite.
Youll have a general feeling of being unwell, and a rash may appear in areas other than the tick bite.
This stage of the disease is primarily characterized by evidence of systemic infection, which means infection has spread throughout the body, including to other organs.
Symptoms can include:
- disturbances in heart rhythm, which can be caused by Lyme carditis
- neurologic conditions, such as numbness, tingling, facial and cranial nerve palsies, and meningitis
The symptoms of stages 1 and 2 can overlap.
How Do You Get Lyme Disease
When an infected deer tick attaches to any part of the body, it quickly climbs onto the skin to find a place to bite. A tick on the body can go unnoticed for hours or days. But if the infected tick is removed within 24 hours, the chance of contracting Lyme disease is greatly reduced.
Because Lyme disease is not prevalent in Texas, Dr. Kahn says it’s unlikely a child could get the condition without traveling to one of the areas where it is more common. Further, there must be a history of a potential exposure to ticks children traveling or staying in a city are highly unlikely to be bitten by a tick.
Not all ticks carry Lyme disease. Lyme disease cannot be spread from person to person, from mother to baby or from any other type of insect bite. A dog or cat cannot spread the disease to its owner, though pets could carry infected ticks inside your home.
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How Can I Help Prevent Lyme Disease In A Child
There is no vaccine for Lyme disease. A child who has had the disease doesnt build up immunity and can get it again. But you can help prevent Lyme disease by protecting your child from tick bites.
Ticks cant bite through clothing, so dress your child and family in:
- Long-sleeved shirts tucked into pants
- Socks and closed-toe shoes
- Long pants with legs tucked into socks
Choose light-colored clothing so that ticks can be easily seen. Check your child often for ticks, including:
- Behind the knees, between fingers and toes, in underarms, and in the groin
- In the belly button
- In and behind the ears, on the neck, in the hairline, and on top of the head
- Where underwear elastic touches the skin
- Where bands from pants or skirts touch the skin
- Anywhere else clothing presses on the skin
- All other areas of the body and hair
Run fingers gently over the skin. Run a fine-toothed comb through your child’s hair to check for ticks.
Other helpful tips include:
- When possible, use cleared or paved paths when walking through wooded areas and fields.
- Shower after outdoor activities are done for the day. It may take up to 4 to 6 hours for ticks to attach firmly to skin. Showering may help remove any loose ticks.
Use insect repellents safely. The most common used against ticks are:
Check your pets for ticks. Talk with your pets veterinarian about tick repellent medicine.
Living With Lyme Disease
Most people treated in the early stages of Lyme disease make a quick and complete recovery. Some may experience symptoms for a few weeks after treatment. If you were treated for Lyme disease but you still dont feel well, call your family doctor. He or she can make sure there isnt something else wrong. They can help you find ways to ease your symptoms. Some patients have found relief with treatments typically used for chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia.
Other things you can do to help manage Lyme disease include:
- Educate yourself.There is a lot of inaccurate information to be sorted through, especially on the internet. Ask your doctor if you have questions.
- Track your symptoms.Keep a diary of your sleep patterns, eating habits, exercise routines, and how youre feeling. You or your doctor may be able to make connections between them.
- Take care of yourself.Eat a healthy diet. Exercise as regularly as you can. Get plenty of rest.
Find support. It can be hard to not feel well and not know why. Some people may think your symptoms arent real. Talk to friends and family. If they cant offer support, talk with a counselor who can help you.
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How Is Lyme Disease Treated
With early-stage Lyme disease, youâll take antibiotics for about 10 days to 3 weeks. The most common ones are amoxicillin, cefuroxime, and doxycycline. The antibiotics will almost always cure your infection. If they donât, you might get other antibiotics either by mouth or as a shot.
If you donât treat your Lyme infection, you might need oral antibiotics for symptoms like weakened face muscles and irregular heartbeat. You may need antibiotics if you have meningitis, inflammation in your brain and spinal cord, or more severe heart problems.
If your Lyme is late stage, the doctor might give you antibiotics either by mouth or as a shot. If it causes arthritis, youâll get arthritis treatment.
Thereâs no therapy for post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome.
When Should You See A Doctor If You Think You Have Lyme
The rash is a pretty good indication that you may have been bitten. Take a photo of the rash and see your doctor. At this stage, treatment with antibiotics will probably work.
If you don’t have the rash but have symptoms like fatigue, fever, and headache but no respiratory symptoms like a cough, you may want to talk to your doctor.
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What Do I Do If I Find A Tick On My Skin
Dont panic. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skins surface as possible. Pull up with steady, even pressure. Be careful not to squeeze or twist the tick body. Sometimes parts of the tick remain in the skin. You can leave them alone or carefully remove them the same way you would a splinter. Do not use heat , petroleum jelly, or other methods to try to make the tick back out on its own. These methods are not effective.
Wash the area where the tick was attached thoroughly with soap and water. Keep an eye on the area for a few weeks and note any changes. Call your doctor if you develop a rash around the area where the tick was attached. Be sure to tell your doctor that you were bitten by a tick and when it happened.
What Are The Symptoms Of Neuroborreliosis
Among the most common symptoms are nerve pain, numbness, double vision, and facial palsy. It is not unusual for LNB symptoms to persist for weeks or even months. LNB can be diagnosed with blood tests able to detect the Borrelia bacterium, followed by a differential diagnosis to exclude all other possible causes.
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Learn The Signs Of Lyme Disease And How To Tell If An Infected Tick Has Bitten Your Child
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted through the bite of an infected deer tick . It is the most common tick-borne disease in the U.S. and was first reported in Lyme, Connecticut.
Lyme disease is most common in the Northeast and upper Midwest regions of the U.S. It is not highly prevalent in Texas. Out of reported cases of Lyme disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported higher incidences in children ages 5 through 9.
“Children in that age group are more likely to spend more hours playing in the woods during the summer,” says Jeffrey Kahn, M.D., Director of Infectious Disease at Children’s Health and Professor at UT Southwestern. “This makes them more likely to become exposed to ticks and tick bites.”
Learn more about Lyme disease to help keep your child safe if playing outside and know what symptoms to watch for if a tick does bite your child.
How Do You Test For Lyme Disease In Children
Doctors can usually make a diagnosis of Lyme disease based on a physical exam and the child’s medical history. They can also use a blood test to confirm a diagnosis in children who are at high risk for the condition due to travel and a known tick bite.
Parents and physicians should be careful when testing for Lyme disease because tests can result in false positives.
“If the child has a tick bite but is not presenting the classic symptoms and hasn’t traveled to a Lyme-endemic area, I would be reluctant to move forward with testing for the condition,” says Dr. Kahn.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Lyme Disease In A Child
Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each child. They usually appear within 3 to 30 days after a tick bite. Lyme disease has early and late-stage symptoms. Early stage Lyme disease is more easily cured with antibiotics than late-stage disease. Most cases of late-stage disease occur when early stage disease is not treated.
One of the most common symptoms is a ring-shaped rash that looks like a bull’s-eye. It may be pink in the center and have a darker red ring around it. The rash does not occur in every case of Lyme. If it does occur, the rash may:
- Appear several days after infection
- Last up to several weeks
- Be very small or very large, up to 12 inches across
- Look like other skin problems such as hives, eczema, sunburn, poison ivy, or flea bites
- Itch or feel hot, or not be felt at all
- Go away and come back several weeks later
Several days or weeks after a bite from an infected tick, your child may have multiple ring-shaped rashes on the body and flu-like symptoms such as:
Months to a few years after a bite, these symptoms may occur:
- Inflammation of the joints
- Nervous system symptoms such as numbness in the arms and legs, tingling and pain, and trouble with speech, memory, and concentration
The symptoms of Lyme disease can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees a healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
What’s The Best Way To Prevent A Tick Bite
Ticks can’t fly or jump. But they live in shrubs and bushes and can grab onto you when you pass by. To avoid getting bitten:
- Wear pants and socks in areas with lots of trees and when you touch fallen leaves.
- Wear a tick repellent on your skin and clothing that has DEET, lemon oil, or eucalyptus.
- For even more protection, use the chemical permethrin on clothing and camping gear.
- Shower within 2 hours after coming inside. Look for ticks on your skin, and wash ticks out of your hair.
- Put your clothing and any exposed gear into a hot dryer to kill whatever pests might be on them.
How do you know if you’ve been bitten?
Since ticks are so small, you’ve got to have pretty good eyes to see them.
If you have a small, red bump on your skin that looks like a mosquito bite, it could be a tick bite. If it goes away in a few days, itâs not a problem. Remember, a tick bite doesnât necessarily mean you have Lyme disease.
If you notice a rash in the shape of a bull’s-eye, you might have a tick bite. Talk to your doctor about treatment.
If you have an allergic reaction to ticks, you’ll notice a bite right away.
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Lyme Disease Symptoms: Common Signs Rare Signs And Misconceptions
Lyme disease, the most common vector-borne disease in the United States, can cause a variety of non-specific symptoms that can make it tricky to diagnose especially as the infection progresses. In the following article, learn the most and least common Lyme disease symptoms, how the disease can change over time, and more.
Stage : Late Disseminated Lyme Disease
Late disseminated Lyme disease occurs when the infection hasnt been treated in stages 1 and 2. Stage 3 can occur months or years after the tick bite.
This stage is characterized by:
- arthritis of one or more large joints
- brain disorders, such as encephalopathy, which can cause short-term memory loss, difficulty concentrating, mental fogginess, problems with following conversations and sleep disturbance
- numbness in the arms, legs, hands, or feet
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Is It Too Late To Treat Lyme
Lyme disease can remain dormant for weeks, months or even years. When symptoms do eventually develop, they can be severe and patients often need aggressive treatment. Intravenous treatment is often required to treat late-stage infection. Late-stage treatment can last many months as seen in other infections as well.
How Is Lyme Disease Diagnosed In A Child
The healthcare provider will ask about your childs symptoms and health history. He or she will ask about recent tick bites. He or she will give your child a physical exam.
Lyme is usually not hard to diagnose. OBut other conditions may cause similar symptoms. The main symptom is often a rash, but more than 1 in 5 people infected with Lyme dont have the rash. In the earliest stage, diagnosis is usually based on symptoms and a history of a tick bite. In later stages, blood testing is very important to make a diagnosis of Lyme disease.
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What Can I Expect Long Term If My Child Has Lyme Disease
If Lyme disease is caught and treated early, most children will make a full recovery. Some children with Lyme disease go on to experience what’s called a post-infectious syndrome with symptoms that may include feeling fatigue, joint aches and pains, headaches, difficulty sleeping, and problems concentrating. Since the infection itself is gone by this time, doctors generally don’t prescribe antibiotics. Each child is different, but it’s not uncommon for symptoms of post-infectious syndrome to linger for months, or even years, and they can be made worse by stress or other illness. But most children do make a full recovery.
Blacklegged, or deer, ticks are very small, so it helps to know what to look for when doing a tick check. Adults are about the size of sesame seeds and in the nymph or larva stage, they can be as tiny as a poppy seeds.
Can I Prevent Tick Bites
You can protect your child from ticks by using an insect repellent that you spray on their skin and clothes. Your doctor can recommend a good spray. You can also encourage your child to wear tight-fitting clothing, including socks and a hat to keep ticks away from their skin.
Check your child for ticks whenever they have been playing outside. Pay special attention to their scalp, elbows, and knees, as well as the skin behind their ears and under their arms.
âBiomedical Journal of Scientific and Technical Research: “Missed Diagnosis and the Development of Acute and Late Lyme Disease in Dark Skinned Populations of Appalachia.”
âCenters for Disease Control and Prevention: “Tick Bite: What to Do.”
âCenters for Disease Control and Prevention: “Tickborne Disease Surveillance Data Summary.”
âCleveland Clinic: “What to Do When a Tick Bites Your Child?”
âHarvard Health Publishing: “Tick Bites.”
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