A tick is a small brown bug that attaches to the skin and sucks blood for 3 to 6 days. The bite is usually painless and doesn't itch. The wood tick (or dog tick) which transmits Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Colorado tick fever is up to 1/2 inch in size. The deer tick which transmits Lyme disease is the size of a pinhead. After feeding on blood, both of these ticks become swollen and easy to see.
The simplest and quickest way to remove a tick is to pull it off. Use tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible (try to get a grip on his head). Apply a steady upward pull until he releases his grip. Do not twist the tick or jerk it suddenly because it may break off the tick's head or mouth parts. Do not squeeze the tweezers to the point of crushing the tick; the secretions released may contain germs that cause disease. If you don't have tweezers, use fingers, a loop of thread around the jaws, or a needle between the jaws to pull it out. Some tiny ticks need to be scraped off with the edge of a credit card.
If the body is removed but the head is left in the skin, use a sterile needle to remove the head (in the same way that you would remove a sliver). Apply antibiotic ointment to the bite once.
Wash the wound and your hands with soap and water after removal. Do not put a hot match on the tick or cover the tick with petroleum jelly, fingernail polish, or rubbing alcohol to try to make the tick back out. These methods do not work.
Because the bite is painless and doesn't itch, your child will probably not know it is there. Favorite hiding places for ticks are in the hair so carefully check the scalp, neck, armpit, and groin. Removing ticks promptly may prevent infection because transmission of Lyme disease requires at least 24 hours of feeding. Also the tick is easier to remove before it becomes firmly attached.
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