Ticks and Tips on how to keep you and your children safe this summer

Summertime in Southern California means plenty of outdoor activities for children. Recreational parks are a popular destination for families seeking plenty of green space and shady trees. It’s a great opportunity for kids to run, explore, play, and enjoy picnics. Parks are also a popular destination for ticks carrying infectious diseases, such as Lyme disease. About 300,000 people in the U.S. contract Lyme disease each year. While this disease may be treated and cured with early diagnosis, there are several precautions parents can take to lessen the likelihood of a tick bite.

Use insect repellent on shoes, socks and pants. Permethrin, an insecticide, kills adult ticks as well as tick nymphs. Nymphs are the likeliest to harbor Lyme disease. Be sure to check with our pediatricians at Coastal Kids Pediatrics if you are unsure about which insect repellent works best for children. Permethrin-treated clothing, socks and shoes are an ideal preventative option. Common bug spray, such as DEET, is not effective protection.

As a deterrent, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks and closed–toe shoes. Tucking shirts into pants, and pants into socks, is even better. However, this may not be sensible if the weather is sunny and hot. You don’t want your child to get heatstroke.

Dress in light-colored clothing and socks. A nymph tick is dark in color and about the size of a poppy seed. The lighter the clothing, the better chance you have of spotting them.

Staying in the sun is a good way to avoid ticks since they are vulnerable to drying out. Their outer covers quickly lose moisture which is why they like to gather in damp, shady areas, such as leaf piles. Stick to sunny areas, but be sure your child is wearing sunscreen. Our pediatricians Coastal Kids Pediatrics can recommend an effective sunscreen.

When hiking, be sure to stick to open paths, away from margins, grassy areas, brush and wooded areas. Nymphs can be found on logs, shed leaves and pine needles, and tree trunks. Avoid sitting on logs, picnicking on grassy areas, or leaning against tree trunks. An adult tick will lie in wait for a host on the margins of trails, grasslands or chaparral, and the uphill brush along hiking trails. It is important to prevent kids from wandering off designated paths.

Use these common sense tips, and enjoy all of the fun outdoor family activities that Southern California has to offer.

To learn more about avoiding ticks visit the center for disease control website.