How to Spot the Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Children

symptoms of lyme disease

Because the symptoms of Lyme disease are vague and changeable, they can be hard to spot.

Children suffering from Lyme disease can’t always describe how they’re feeling. They may just come across cranky or tired.

So if you live in an area that has a lot of ticks, you need to know what the symptoms of Lyme disease look like.

Take a look at this guide to find out how you can spot the warning signs of Lyme disease before it becomes serious.

Getting Bit by a Tick Doesn’t Mean Your Child Has Lyme Disease

A single tick bite won’t give your child Lyme disease. So don’t panic if you find a tick on your kid. If you remove the tick right away, your child can’t end up with Lyme disease.

Why?

A tick can only transmit Lyme disease if they’ve lived on a person for roughly 48 hours. As long as you’ve removed the tick before that time, your child doesn’t have Lyme disease.

Not All Ticks Carry Lyme Disease

The tick that bit your child may not even carry the disease. There are several types of tick, like a wood tick, that don’t have the ability to give people Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is usually spread by deer ticks. These ticks have red bodies and black heads, and they are about the size of a sesame seed. If the tick that bit your child doesn’t look like this, you probably don’t have to worry about Lyme disease.

Not All Deer Ticks Pass the Disease

Remember, a tick can only give your child Lyme disease if it’s been living on them for about 48 hours.

If you do find a deer tick on your child, check the size. A deer tick swells up when it feeds, so if the tick is still small, it hasn’t had a chance to pass on the disease.

Even a bite from a deer tick doesn’t mean your child has Lyme disease. It can take days for the tick to transmit the disease. So don’t panic if you find a deer tick on your child. If it’s not swollen, your child is most likely safe.

What Should I Do if I Find a Tick on My Child?

If you find a tick on your child, you should remove it right away. And to do this, all you need is a pair of tweezers.

Don’t try alternative remedies to remove a tick. Things like petroleum jelly or a match won’t necessarily work. In fact, they could cause the tick to crawl deeper into the skin.

Pulling the tick out with tweezers is the best way to remove it.

1. What You’ll Need to Remove a Tick

Before you remove a tick, take a moment to gather the supplies you’ll need. These supplies include the following:

  • Tweezers
  • Cotton ball (Q-tip, cloth, etc.)
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Ziplock bag (or another sealed container)

Once you have these things gathered, have your child sit down at the table.

2. Use the Tweezers to Remove the Tick

Grab the tick as close to the skin as possible. Then just steadily pull the tick straight out of the skin.

Don’t twist as you pull. This could cause part of the mouth to break off and stay attached to the skin. If this does happen, just leave those pieces alone.

Trying to dig them out could push them further in. They will fall off on their own after a while.

3. Swab the Bite with Rubbing Alcohol

After you’ve pulled the tick out, dip a cotton ball into some rubbing alcohol and dab it on the bite. This will clean the area.

4. Put the Tick in a Ziplock Bag

If you know the tick isn’t a deer tick (or doesn’t carry Lyme disease), you don’t have to keep the tick. However, if you’re concerned your child might have Lyme disease, it’s a good idea to keep the tick. The doctor may want to see it.

But don’t just send the tick in for lab testing.

A tick that has Lyme disease doesn’t necessarily pass that disease on when it bites. So sending a tick to a lab doesn’t usually tell you or the doctor anything.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease

If your child has been bitten by a tick, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease in children.

Keep an eye out for these things after a bite. As soon as you notice any symptoms, you should visit a doctor immediately.

(Note: a small, red bump usually forms around a tick bite. Though it sticks around for a few days, this is normal. It does not mean your child has Lyme disease.)

Early Symptoms

A rash can form around the tick bite anywhere from three to 30 days after the bite. This rash usually looks like a bullseye, and it can expand to 12 inches across.

This rash isn’t normally itchy or painful.

Other early symptoms of Lyme disease include things like chills, fevers, general aches, fatigue, and headaches.

Later Symptoms

If you don’t treat the disease right away, more bullseye rashes can appear on the body.

Your child may also experience joint pain and swelling, especially in their knees. They can also suffer from weakness in their limbs, impaired muscle movement, meningitis, and Bell’s palsy (paralysis of half of their face).

These symptoms can occur either weeks or months after the initial bite.

Visit a Doctor

You should always visit a doctor as soon as you notice these symptoms. Even if the symptoms seem to go away, visit a doctor anyway.

The lack of symptoms doesn’t mean the disease is gone. And it could get worse if you don’t get Lyme disease treatment. Lyme disease will never go away on its own.

Avoid Lyme Disease in Children

The best way to avoid Lyme disease in children is prevention and pest control. Whenever your children play in bushy, grassy, or wooded areas, make sure you check them for ticks when they come back inside.

If your child has been in an area that may have ticks, keep an eye out for symptoms of Lyme disease. As soon as you spot anything out of the ordinary, schedule an appointment with your pediatrician.

Need some help keeping pests out of your yard? Take a look at this guide for some helpful pest control tips.

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