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Lyme Disease Symptoms in Your Child

Pediatrics and Child Health

Lyme disease is on the rise and as a parent you may have concerns about how to recognize Lyme disease symptoms or what steps you can take to keep your child from contracting the disease.

Lyme disease is a tick-borne infectious disease caused by a number of species of bacteria. The tick bite is usually painless and may go unnoticed. Lyme disease symptoms can vary from one person to another. Doctors have divided the disease into three stages although these don’t always occur sequentially and healing can occur at any stage.

In stage one of Lyme disease, one of the first signs is a rash that resembles a target with a small red spot at the site of the tick bite. There may be other types of rashes or even no rash at all during the initial stage of the disease. This is what can make early detection of Lyme disease symptoms difficult. The disease may show up weeks later in the form of flu-like symptoms that include sore throat, fever and chills.

In stage two of Lyme disease, pain develops near the site of the tick bite and there may be multiple rashes on the body. During this stage there is usually swelling of the lymph nodes, headache, general weakness, joint pain and abnormal heart function

If Lyme disease progresses to stage three, arthritis can occur. This may not show up for months or even years after the initial tick bite. It affects knees, ankles, elbows, wrists and even the fingers and toes. Rarely, late stages of Lyme disease symptoms can include swelling of the brain and paralysis.

Lyme disease is seldom fatal but can wreak havoc on a child’s body and recovery can be slow. This is why it is so important for parents that suspect their child has Lyme disease symptoms to consult their pediatrician. In many cases the child may only develop a rash or feel slightly ill. But left untreated, the disease can cause some very serious health problems.

How to Spot Lyme Disease Symptoms in Your Child

Lyme disease is found in almost every state in the U.S. so no matter where you live, you need to take precautions to protect your child from tick bites. Educating yourself about Lyme disease symptoms can help you to not only detect the disease early on but possibly prevent it altogether.

Dress your child in clothing that covers the skin, such as long sleeved shirts that fit snuggly at the wrists and long pants tucked into socks or boots. Use a child safe insect repellent recommended for ticks and follow the product label directions. Use light colored clothing so it’s easy to spot the ticks.

Make a habit of inspecting your child’s skin for ticks each time they come in from outdoors. This can greatly reduce the chance of infection since the tick can take a few hours or even days to completely attach to the skin and begin to feed.

What to Do if You Find a Tick on Your Child

If you do find a tick, you can gently remove it with pointed needle nose pliers, being sure to grasp the entire head area and mouth. Use care to avoid crushing the tick and place it in a secure container or plastic bag with a damp paper towel to keep the tick alive. Take the tick along with you on your child’s visit to the doctor.

Immediately wash the bite area with soap and water or apply a disinfectant after you remove the tick. Learn to identify ticks and the early signs of Lyme disease. Call your doctor right away if you suspect your child may have Lyme disease symptoms.

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