Tips and Advice

Febuary 22, 2018

Tick Bites While Traveling

Our Story

While navigating my husband through the traffic of an unfamiliar city to find a restaurant, I heard my oldest daughter say with some urgency in her voice:

Mommy, there's a bug in her armpit! You need to look at this!
She was pointing at her sister in horror. The youngest looked at her armpit and started to panic.
What? Mommy! There's a bug! Ouch!

Crumbs, we had missed the turn for the restaurant. The hysteria in the back seat reached Mount Everest heights. My hopes of mashed potatoes and gravy were now slim to none if this wasn’t dealt with. Resigned, I turned to my husband.

Better pull over, honey, it sounds like we might have a problem here.
What he really meant was:
Where in the world do you think I can stop, look at this traffic?
I ignored the subtleties.
Right here at this gas station will do. Hurry!
I urged my driver.

We stopped abruptly at the gas station. I quickly yanked my kid out and proceeded to a preliminary examination. Dear me!

It's a tick!
First one the kids ever had, and we had to be on the road! I tried hard not to panic. Thankfully, the nurse part of my brain kicked in.

Get me the tweezers; they're in the red travel bag.
In my head:
This is disgusting... Keep it together, you can do this, just grab it real close to the skin and hold tight and pull straight out gently yet firmly. I hate doing this! Get out of there, you bug! Oh sugar! I pulled too hard and broke the head off. It’s still inside the skin. Great!
Fighting the urge to look away and maybe vomit, I took a deep breath. I couldn’t let my daughter know how I really felt. Now, what could I clean this with?

Pass me the hand sanitizer.
I thoroughly sanitized her arm, the tweezers and my hands. Then I used my calm, nothing-out-of-the-ordinary-to-see-here Mom voice.
It's all right, it's out now. It will hurt for a while still. Let's go eat something.

A practical man, my husband asked if maybe we shouldn’t keep the tick to have it tested.

It's a tick from New York, where we went hiking. It was probably in her jacket sleeve when she just put it on 5 minutes ago. We're in Tennessee now. We’re going to be in Louisiana tomorrow and Mexico in 3 days. Our best option is to keep looking at the site for the bull's eye rash and hope she doesn't get it.
We marked the outline of the welt with an ink pen and showed it to a pharmacist in Alabama. To our relief, it all turned out to be much ado about nothing.

Avoid Direct Contact with Ticks

  • Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
  • Walk in the center of trails.
  • Repel ticks on skin and clothing with appropriate repellant.

How to Remove a Tick

  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
  2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick, this can cause the mouth parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth parts with tweezers. If you are unable to do it easily, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the tick bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
  4. Never crush a tick with your finger. Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed container/bag, wrapping it tightly in tape or flushing it down the toilet.

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