Ask any veteran parent about the worry and concerns that come with raising a kid and she will tell you: It never stops. Protecting your children, after all, comes at the top of your parenting to-do list and your mama bear instincts show you just how to do it. But what about the things you aren’t so sure about? During the summer, that might include how often to apply sunscreen or tips for warding off pesky insects. Mosquitos make that list, but what about ticks? Knowing how to keep ticks off your baby may be just the tip you need to fully enjoy summer.
“In general, tick bites can be prevented through wearing proper clothing and using repellents,” says Texas-based Dr. Eboni Hollier, who is board-certified in both general and developmental and behavioral pediatrics, in a Romper email interview.
That means dressing your baby in lightly-colored long pants and a lightweight long-sleeved shirt so that ticks are more visible, Hollier says, as well as a hat and enclosed shoes. Repellents should be applied to exposed skin and clothing, making sure to never apply them to skin under clothing. “Always follow repellent instructions and precautions, even if you choose a natural repellent,” Hollier says.
Brad Leahy, Vice President of Maryland-based B.O.G. Pest Control, tells Romper in an email interview that these steps become especially important if you're headed for a tick-dense area on vacation or family camping trip.
“You can treat your child's clothing with Permethrin, a repellent spray that keeps mosquitoes and ticks away,” he says, adding that you can find ones suitable for clothing and gear on Amazon or at camping and outdoor stores. “It is odorless when dry, doesn't stain, and lasts about six washes.”
Leahy also says to apply sunscreen before using any tick repellents. “Most people don't realize that applying sunscreen on top of bug spray can inactivate it,” he says, adding that parents should spray the repellents into their hands and then rub on children to avoid spraying in the eyes or mouth. “We recommend letting sunscreen soak in for about 10 minutes before using repellent, and following the same process every time you reapply.”
The current American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation for children older than 2 months of age is to use 10 percent to 30 percent DEET, another common insect repellent. DEET should not be used on children younger than 2 months of age. Dr. Jennifer Lighter, assistant professor of pediatric infectious disease at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone, tells Romper in an email interview that the CDC also offers a review of natural tick repellents and pesticides, like those made from garlic oil and wild tomato plants.
Hollier says if your baby develops a rash or other reaction to the repellent, immediately stop using it, wash skin thoroughly with soap and water, and contact The Center for Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222. If you go to your child's doctor, then be sure to take the repellent with you. Most of all, she says, don’t panic.
“It is important to remember that most tick bites are harmless and do not spread disease,” she says. “Lyme disease is an infection transmitted by a bacteria-infected deer tick that bites a person. It occurs most often during the late spring to early fall. In the United States, it occurs most often in the north east, north central and western parts of the country.”
A little something to ease your worry, right? Now you can panic about all of the other things in your brain.