this comes to us by way of a friend who has had some trouble with ticks and lymes disease, so I asked her to write something to help out when this question arises...thank you lisa!
Of course this dreaded disease is not common to many parts of the USA, or the larger world. But, it does continue to be a problem for many. Just in case you are in a region that has this problem - we thought we might share some basic information. Unfortunately, we know how painful and debilitating it can be. And, the history of the disease's recognition is also quite an interesting tale of struggle, should you wish to search out more.
Lyme Disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected blacklegged ticks (also called Deer ticks).
Your best bet is to avoid areas with lots of ticks especially in May, June and July when these ticks are at their most active. Ticks are most common in wooded and bushy areas or areas with high grass or leaf litter. They can also be found lurking about in rock walls.
When walking in the woods stay in the center of the trail to avoid contact with bushes, grasses and leaf litter. If your children are young and apt to toddle off to the side, make a game out of it. You, of course know your child best so depending on their world-view you may want to simply tell them where the ticks hang out and caution them to avoid those areas.
Wearing long pants and tucking them into socks is recommended when you know you will be in a tick-y area. As is wearing light clothing so you can spot ticks more easily and using an insect repellant with DEET. Of course you may want to research DEET before using it on your children. There are many new studies that are worth looking in to, we don't like to recommend it but sometimes it's really necessary and you have to decide where you are on this question.
If you have been in or live in an area where ticks are prevalent, make a point of doing a tick check at bedtime. Most children will gladly submit to this if you include a little bit of tickling along with the checking. Ticks like warm areas and seem to be found often along the hair-line and behind ears and knees, we have found them in belly-buttons! but anywhere is fair game, so check the whole child.
If you find a tick, breathe, chances are if you’ve been checking fairly often and if the tick has not been attached to the skin for more than 24 hours and is unlikely to have transmitted the disease.
Use fine-tipped tweezers to remove the tick by firmly grasping the tick very close to the skin and steadily pull the ticks body away. Throw the tick away and gently clean the bite spot with soap and warm water. Sometimes the tick’s mouthparts remain in the skin, but this alone cannot transmit the disease. Do not crush the tick or use petroleum jelly or any other products to remove the tick. If you’re out without tweezers you can carefully pull the tick off with your fingers.
Of course getting the tick out is the easy part, now you have to worry. Symptoms begin to occur within 3-30 days and in about 70% or cases begin with a rash called erythema migrans which is more commonly known as bulls eye rash. Other common symptoms include headache, fever, chills, fatigue and muscle and joint aches. In some cases Bell’s palsy can occur which is a loss of muscle tone on one or both sides of the face (look for a crooked smile).
Your doctor will most likely recommend an IFA test that occasionally gives a false positive but rarely a false negative result. In its early stages, Lyme Disease is fairly easily treated with a several week course of antibiotics. there are a few homeopathic doctors around that have some good results without antibiotics but you have to find or know of a very good one that has worked with positive results with lymes disease. so many people ask what do they actually look like so we included this pretty good image which shows you how small they actually are!
The Center for Disease Control has great information and resource guides here