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Should You Check Your Toddler For Ticks?

I Never Checked My Toddler for Ticks — Until She Got Bit by 1

You can learn a lot at the playground. It's a great place for kids to make new friends, an excuse to ignore the laundry for a few more hours, and an even better way for moms to meet (and vent) with other moms. A few weeks ago, I spent an hour making small talk with a new mom I met there while my 2-year-old daughter played with her kids. It was a typical conversation . . . until something she said caught me off guard.

I kept my daughter still while my mother pulled the tick out with the tweezers. It came off after a couple tries, but a few of the legs were still sticking out of her head.

The mom mentioned that she always checks her kids for ticks after they've been playing outside for a while. This might seem like a really obvious thing to do for other moms, but, as a new parent who could definitely learn a thing or two, the thought of checking my toddler for ticks had never even occurred to me. In my mind, I always figured that if a tick was on my daughter, I'd be able to see it on her leg or arm and simply pick it off. But fast forward to just a week later, and I learned my lesson the hard way.

It was just like every other Monday afternoon. After an hour of playing outside with my daughter in the backyard, we headed into the house to watch TV before dinner. We were sitting on the couch together when I started to gather her messy hair into a ponytail. As I ran my fingers through her hair, I felt a tiny lump on the back of her head, near the bottom right side. Flashbacks of the mom at the park — and our conversation about checking for ticks — instantly flew through my mind.

I felt complete panic come over me, but still remained as calm as I could. I gently instructed my daughter to lay on her belly over my lap as I navigated through her curly locks. Sure enough, I parted her hair enough to see a small deer tick latched into her tender skin — the kind of tick that causes Lyme Disease, and is pretty common in our Northern New Jersey town. It was trying to burrow into her head completely, as small amounts of blood dripped down from the bite. Naturally, my first instinct was to call my own mom, who rushed over right away.

I held my toddler down, who was now terrified at the obvious state of panic I was in. My mother and I tried to pull the tick off with our fingers. It wouldn't budge. After some quick brainstorming, we found a pair of tweezers. I held my now hysterical daughter's hair out of the way and kept her still while my mother pulled the tick out with the tweezers. It came off after a couple tries, but a few of the legs were still sticking out of her head. Once we removed them and cleaned the area with water, I made a phone call to the pediatrician.

By this time, it was 8 p.m. The doctor told us to come into the office regardless. The pediatrician thoroughly checked the tick bite and confirmed that it was a deer tick that had latched onto the back of my toddler's head. Since the tick had not been on my daughter for more than 24 hours, she wasn't concerned that she would receive any type of bacteria, infection, or illness, and reassured me that my daughter would be more than fine. Per the pediatrician's orders, I was instructed to clean the tick bite area with bacitracin a couple times a day for the next week.

As traumatizing as this tick bite incident was for my toddler and I, it's safe to say I will always check her for ticks from here on out.

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