In the South, tick borne illnesses are in season during the summer months.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI), and Ehrlichiosis are endemic here in TN while Lyme disease is not. 

Reducing exposure to these biting arachnids is key. Check yourself and your children each day after being outdoors. This can be particularly difficult on the scalp when the child has long or thick hair. It may be easier to “feel” the tick on the scalp with my fingertips than see them. Don’t forget the areas such as the groin and the backside which may not be as easily visible. If you find an attached tick, remove with fine-tipped tweezers.  Click here to learn how to remove a tick.

Using an insect repellent such as DEET may be helpful for ticks but probably works better on those pesky mosquitoes. DEET can be applied directly to the skin as directed on the product label instructions with the following considerations for young children:

  • Not recommended for children under 2 months of age
  • Don’t apply to children’s hands. Don’t spray directly onto children’s faces and don’t apply around the eyes or mouth
  • Children 6 months to 2 years should be limited to one application per day
  • Children 2-12 years should be limited to 3 applications per day

The maximum concentration used should be 10% or less for children up to 12 years of age.  These low concentrations are effective for 2-3 hours. A second application of DEET may be warranted if the child is out of doors for more than 12 hours. After returning indoors, wash the skin with soap and water.

Permethrin is another available product that is used as an insecticide, acaricide (kills ticks and mites), and also considered an insect repellant. Permethrin is a synthetic derivative of natural pyrethrin which comes from chrysanthemums. Permethrin is applied to clothing, mosquito netting, etc., but not the skin when used for this purpose. While topical permethrin has an incredible safety profile in most mammals including humans, it should never be used on cats and is also very toxic to fish.