Parents, teachers, and camp and colony supervisor alike need to know how to protect their children (and themselves) from ticks and what to do if a tick is stingy. Parents will take care of safety during family walks and outdoor activities, teachers will ensure the safety of their children (including protection against tick bites) during school field activities, outdoor wf lessons, excursions or trips to the green school. When going out with children, each adult – parent, teacher or group leader – should take a first aid kit with a repellent and tick remover and take care to observe a number of the principles listed below. Parents should also ensure that tick and tick products are included in their children’s school and trip rucksacks and discuss with their children how to reduce the risk of biting.
Ticks are particularly disliked creatures by humans. They infect with borreliosis bacteria and viruses of tick-borne encephalitis, diseases the effects of which are sometimes very dangerous and the treatment long-term and unpleasant. Besides, they are simply disgusting – the arachnid of a millimetre long can drink our blood in such a way that after falling off it exceeds the size of a pea grain.
When a mosquito, horse fly or midge bites, (with a few exceptions) nothing but an unpleasant itching bubble is at stake. Also, biting the bees, wasps or even spreading them outside the severe pain does not cause side effects (except for allergic persons). The opposite is true of the case with ticks. Their bites are not painful, usually we do not feel at all that this arachnid is just biting into the skin, because its saliva contains an anaesthetic substance. But the effects of biting can be unpleasant and dangerous.
Attention, however – fear has great eyes! Not every tick is a carrier of pathogenic germs, and in addition, for an infection to occur, the tick must be stuck in our skin long over 24 hours a day. In the vast majority of cases, we will manage to remove it before it pumps enough germs into our bloodstream.
How do I protect my children and myself from ticks?
Firstly, we can avoid the places where they occur. Ticks are waiting for their prey primarily on the border of two areas of vegetation, e.g. where a forest meets a meadow, on grassy shores of ponds, rivers, etc. Ticks do not climb high, up to one and a half meters from the ground, so we rarely meet them in the middle of the forest. They are also not there where the grass is mown, while tall grasses and shrubs are their favourite places.
Secondly, if we are planning a trip, we should try to protect our skin against contact with ticks. Even on a hot day it is worth putting on long trousers and a shirt with long sleeves. Protect your head with a hat (which will also protect you from sunshine) and put on your feet full of shoes. Ideally, the garment should be light in colour, so that the tick is more visible. A full outfit will protect not only against ticks, but also against meshes, mosquitoes and other biting insects, and will avoid accidental abrasions or burns by nettles.
Thirdly, even in full dress, let us use a deterrent for ticks. Which one? We have recently tested the Moskito Guard series, which we can certainly recommend – they are effective, comfortable to use, gentle on the skin and clothes, and comfortable to use.
And fourthly, after the trip, let’s examine the child and ourselves carefully to see if the tick has penetrated the skin.
What to do if a tick bites?
First of all, do not panic, because in the vast majority of cases the effects of biting will be minimal. When the tick is removed, a small morning will remain on the skin and it will heal quickly. There are three conditions: the tick must not infect us, it must be professionally removed and the morning disinfected.
How do I remove a tick?
You can use special tools or try to remove them with your fingers.
Tools are:
– The tweezers, which we grasp vertically from the top and pull upwards,
– a plastic tick-card with a special cut-out. Slide the card flat under the tick and move it further, causing the insect to be pulled out,
– pliers, which resemble a miniature crowbar and operate on the principle of a lever,
– lasso equipped with a loop, which is pressed on the pliers and pulled upwards,
– a pump to produce the suction vacuum of the skin tongs.
The simplest way is to remove the tick with your fingers.
I live in an area where ticks are widespread. And because I have three cats wandering around the area, I can remove several ticks a day. I quickly mastered removing them with my fingers: I grabbed the tick with my thumb and my index finger from above, as close to the skin as possible. I try not to squeeze the insect, so as not to “pump” the contents into the skin. Then, with a gentle but energetic movement, I pull it upwards. I do not remove or tear it apart. From time to time, a tick-tacker catches one of my family members.