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National Child Safety Expert, Alison Rhodes, “The Safety Mom,” is one of the country's leading child safety authorities, providing tips and advice to parents on a broad range of issues facing all children - newborns to teens.

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The Buzz on Tick Bites and Bee Stings
by Alison Rhodes

With the fall approaching, more of our outdoor activities will include pesky yellow jackets and deer ticks hidden in damp leaves. While bee stings are often just a momentary annoyance…and pain…they can potentially be life threatening. And Lyme disease has become a significant problem all around the country. Deer ticks are so small it’s easy to miss one on your child so it’s important to recognize the symptoms of Lyme disease and get treatment as soon as possible. Read on for some tips on how to prevent and treat bee stings and tick bites.

Ticks are most usually found in heavily wooded areas and near stone walls where leaves from the fall have accumulated. Adult ticks can also be found on top of long grass. The first symptom of Lyme disease is usually a red rash that starts as a red spot at the site of the tick bite. Other symptoms such as fatigue, aches and pains and fever soon follow. It is important to monitor your child for these symptoms, however, because in almost one quarter of diagnosed cases, the rash was not present and it is easy to mistake the symptoms for some other illness. The good news is that an infected tick has to be attached to the person’s skin for two days to transmit Lyme disease so it gives parents time to remove it. They are so small, though, that it is easy to mistake the tick for a freckle or small scab. It’s important to check your child every day, especially at the scalp line, under arm pits and near the groin for ticks. Do a tick check the minute they walk in the door and have them change out of the clothes they are wearing. Don’t forget to use tick spray or a tick collar on your pets to keep them safe as well. If you do find a tick on your child, use a sharp point tweezer to grab the tick near the head, not the body and pull firmly out without twisting. Save the tick in a jar or plastic bag until you contact your pediatrician. He or she might want you to send the tick in for testing or will tell you to mark the date on your calendar that you discovered it so that you can begin watching for symptoms.

Bee stings, while in most cases not as serious as Lyme disease, are another painful reality of spring, summer and fall. Unfortunately, children usually learn the hard way about avoiding bees and their hives. Help prevent your child from being stung by eliminating the use of fragrant shampoos or lotions. Similar to tick prevention, dress them in light colored clothing. Check playground equipment and near windows for new hives. If you find one, keep your child away from the area until you can safely destroy it. Remind children not to drink directly out of soda cans as a bee could find its way into an open one without the child realizing it. If you’re having a picnic, clean up food as quickly as possible and keep children away from garbage cans where swarms of bees can gather. If your child is stung, scrape the stinger out of the skin with a blunt butter knife or the edge of a credit card. Never attempt to remove it by squeezing it out or pulling it with a tweezer as this can send more venom into the body. Wash the area with soap and water and place ice on it to prevent swelling and rub some hydrocortisone on the infected area. You can also give your child an antihistamine such as Benadryl to prevent the reaction from spreading. Watch your child for any sign of an allergic reaction, such as swelling, difficulty breathing or nausea at which point you should call your doctor immediately.

The fall is such a great time to be outside and, with a little preparation and pre-caution, you can make sure it’s free of painful bites and stings.

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