Healthy Kids    

Found a tick on your child?

Tips on how to remove it safely

With Lyme disease so prevalent during warm weather months in the Hudson Valley, daily tick checks on your yourself and your kids is critical. That, according to Kyle Henry, a registered nurse and head of the Sullivan County Tick Free program, is the most important thing.

“You’re not going to avoid ticks, you’re just not,” he notes.

So how do you keep your kids safe?

“Do a daily tick check,” Henry says. “Check the armspits, the backs of the legs, from the nape of the neck up through the hair.

“The ticks are small,” he continues. “If you take a single poppy seed off of your bagel, that’s how small we’re talking with some of these ticks.”

The color and size depends on the age of the tick and time of year. Risk of infection from ticks carrying the Lyme spyrochete begins in the spring and carries through until fall.

In order to transmit Lyme, a tick must be latched onto the skin for 36 hours. It’s “the magic number,” Henry says.

Daily checks ensure parents will catch the tick before Lyme can take hold of their child’s body. If a tick is found, the folks at Public Health say the only option is to use a tweezer to pull the tick – head and all – from the skin. Suffocating the tick with Vaseline, butter, dish detergent or any of the other methods circulating the Internet are not advisable, Henry says, because it will agitate the insect and possibly increase the risk.

Once removed, Henry says parents can bring the tick to their local public health office for identification and an assessment of their child’s risk. They can call their doctor if they’re worried, he adds, but a cautionary dose of antibiotics is not recommended.


Jeanne Sager is a mom to Jillian and writer and photographer from Callicoon Center.