Lyme Disease in Children – FAQs
It is extremely important for parents to learn more about the Lyme disease, which is a condition that can result in many other health problems, especially in children. In many cases, children, who are more susceptible to this disease than their parents and other adults, may get it from being in contact with mice and deer living in heavily wooded areas or grassy fields. They can also contract it from pets. This health problem has been most rampant in the Northeast, the northern Midwest, and the Pacific Northwest states.
About the Disease
The culprit that causes Lyme disease is known as the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Small animals, such as mice and deer, are the most common sources of this bacterium. Parasites that feed on the blood of these animals, known as Ixodes ticks, deer ticks, or black-legged ticks, can transmit the Borrelia burgdorferi to human beings through bites.
With ticks being very small, they can be very hard to see, especially if one is not particularly looking for them on the body. Young ticks, also referred to as nymphs, have a size that is just about as big as a poppy seed. Adult ticks, on the other hand, are usually just as big as a piece of sesame seed.
It is very important for parents to know what the symptoms of Lyme disease are, considering the tiny size of these parasites. Because they can be easily passed off as moles, some parents may have the tendency to overlook a tick bite. Furthermore, those who have been diagnosed with the disease do not even recall having been bitten by a tick.
Fortunately, most people who get bitten by these parasites do not suffer from Lyme disease.
How Lyme Disease is Treated
Typically, the treatment for Lyme disease is done with antibiotics, which is to be given for a period of 2 to 4 weeks. For individuals who have been diagnosed right away and have taken antibiotics quickly, the outcome is almost always positive in nature. Within just a few weeks after the treatment has begun, a patient can already start feeling better, with his/her health back to normal.
The good news is that there is no need to worry about Lyme disease being contagious. This means that your child, even if he/she has been in contact with a person suffering from the disease, is not going to be afflicted with the same condition. If your child is the one suffering from the disease, he/she is not going to transmit it to you or to other people he/she comes into contact with.
What you need to know, as a parent, though, is that Lyme disease can be experienced by people more than just once. This means that you should continue practicing caution and safety measures and teach your child to be careful, even if he/she already had gone through the disease.
The Signs and Symptoms of Lyme Disease
One of the biggest concerns with Lyme disease is that it can cause problems to different parts and systems of the body. Those who are suffering from it can experience signs and symptoms that affect their joints, nervous system, heart, and/or skin. The indications are also often characterized as taking place in three different stages, though not everyone who has it are going to go through all three.
The first stage is associated with a circular rash that is found at the site where the tick has bitten the person. In most cases, this appears within a week to a couple of weeks from the time of having been bitten and infected. The rash is also often the first sign that a person is infected with Lyme disease. It is important to know though, that while a rash is regarded as a typical Lyme disease symptom, many people who are infected with it do not get one.
If your child has been bitten and he/she develops a rash, check if it has an appearance that looks like a “bull’s-eye.” This is actually a distinguishable characteristic of a Lyme disease rash, with its central spot being red in color, but the skin surrounding it remains clear. The clear area is then ringed by a red rash, which, in most cases, continues to expand. Some people may also develop a rash that is often described as a ring of expanding solid red. It is going to continue expanding over the course of the disease, disappearing eventually on its own. The more quickly the disease is treated, the faster this symptom disappears.
Further Understanding the Symptoms
One of the most important things that you should know when it comes to Lyme disease is that a common symptom associated with it is a rash circular in appearance. This rash is going to develop at the site where the tick has bitten your child. In most cases, it appears about a week or two from the time of infection. You should also know that this circular rash may be the first sign that your child has the disease, as it usually develops first before the rest of the disease’s symptoms. Not all people who acquire the disease can develop this though.
Some of the main characteristics of a Lyme disease rash include the following:
• Bulls-eye like in appearance
• Has a central spot that is red in color
• The surrounding skin is clear, but is ringed with a red rash that grows in size
• Sometimes, the growing ring is solid red
• Usually flat and painless, but some people may also develop a rash that is warm to the touch and can also be scaly, prickling, burning, or itchy
Aside from a rash, if your child has Lyme disease, he/she may also go through symptoms akin to influenza, including headaches, fatigue, fever, and muscle pains.
Always Seek the Advice of a Medical Expert
Since Lyme disease comes with such a broad array of symptoms, it can be hard to diagnose; even doctors find it difficult to. Fortunately, there are a number of tests that can be conducted to check for evidence that a person may have acquired this condition. These tests are often conducted with the use of the patient’s blood.
It is important for you, as a parent, to always seek the advice of your primary health care giver if you are unsure of what your child may be suffering from. This is particularly true if the symptoms being exhibited by your child are associated with Lyme disease. While the symptoms may gradually disappear on their own, if left untreated, there still exists the possibility of the infection spreading throughout the body.
Learn about the Steps that Can Minimize the Risks of Acquiring Lyme Disease
Unfortunately, there is no possible way to completely avoid and prevent a person from acquiring Lyme disease. However, there are a number of steps that you can implement in order to minimize the risks of your loved ones, especially your children, from suffering from this health problem.
Since these bacterium-carrying ticks infest animals, you should take precautions if your children spend a lot of their time outside, especially in places that are woody and/or grassy. Here are some of the most important risk-minimizing steps you should keep in mind:
• Use of enclosed footwear, such as shoes and/or boots.
• Use of protective clothing, including long pants and long-sleeved shirts.
• Use of non-toxic insect repellants that contain 10 to 30 percent DEET.
• Use of lighter colored clothes to make it easier to see ticks.
• Pull back long hair or have it tucked in a hat or a cap for extra protection.
• Avoid sitting on outdoor grounds.
• Make it a habit to regularly check for ticks, both inside and outside of the house.
• After being in an area known for having tick-carrying animals, taking a bath and washing the hair as well as the used clothes should be done immediately.
In the event that you believe your child has been bitten by a tick or if he/she is at risk, do not hesitate to give your primary health care provider a call. A visit to the doctor may actually be better. And while there are many other types of conditions that can result in symptoms that are similar to those of the Lyme disease, you should always notify your doctor, seeing that this disease affects the brain. If you see a rash on your child that comes with a red ring and if he/she is experiencing flu-like symptoms for quite some time now, a doctor’s visit is the wisest course of action.