I recently went through a grueling experience that I though I would share on this blog. On a recent visit to the rural areas, my 4 and a half year old daughter got bitten by a tick. Not really surprising, considering how she thinks dogs and cats are toys. Anyway, in summer, in some parts of Zimbabwe, there are usually outbreaks of these very small ticks that prey on humans. They are really annoying, and it makes me terrified to walk around in the grass. Now, this year was a bit better. There is an ongoing drought around the country and there was virtually no grass to talk about.
How to remove a tick
At some point soon after the new year, Nyasha’s grandmother noticed that she had a tick on her chest. The thing must have been on there for a day or two, since it had become rather plump from feeding on her. The question then arose as to how to remove it. See, intuition states that you should simply pull the thing off. However, I have had nasty experiences with ticks myself. When it bites, the thing doesn’t really want to let go. In fact, if you pull it, it will break apart, leaving parts of its mouth embedded in your skin.
When this happens to me, an irritating itch soon develops and the area hardens and forms a crust that simply will not go away. It’s probably the body trying to get rid of the leftover tick parts. I have previously gone for a year with the area still itching like nobody’s business. And as everyone knows, those small ticks like to bite in inconvenient spots around the groin.
Dealing with a tick bite on a child
Now, when my daughter got bitten, I tried all the tricks in the book to get the thing to let go on it’s own. I tried tickling it at somebody’s suggestion. I then tried semi squashing it. When that failed, I put some maize chemical on there. I even considered putting cattle dip on it. Finally, I simply pulled the thing off in frustration.
A huge mistake
That turned out to be a huge mistake on my part. I should have been patient. I should have tried something else to get the tick to let go. Everything appeared fine a while after I had removed the offending tick from my daughter’s chest. However, a few days later, the spot turned into a small wound. I put some vics vapor rub on there because vics claims to be able to deal with insect bites. Another mistake. Vics probably worsened things.
Soon after getting back to Harare, I noticed that my daughter had developed a fever. In desperation, I turned to Google. The things that I read there scared me. Ticks are known, in some parts of the globe, to spread diseases, including Lyme disease. Now I was terrified. Not that I knew what Lyme disease was or whether or not it was present in Zimbabwe. But the thought of my daughter harboring some nefarious diseased gave me sleepless nights.
A visit to the clinic
A day after the breakout of the fever, Nyasha’s mother took her to the local clinic. By then, the tick bite had developed into a small round wound that showed signs of being infected. There was also some blistering around the wound. Maybe it was from the maize storage powder? I was pouring betadine on there but that didn’t seem to be of help. Fortunately, the nurses at the council clinic were there and not on strike when my daughter was taken there.
By then, her fever was raging. We had recorded a high of 39.5 degrees in the night. At the clinic, they recorded 39.1. They gave my daughter an antibiotic and some ointment to put on the bite. They also gave her some painkillers to deal with the fever.
Overall, I as impressed by the treatment that my daughter got from the nurses at the Sunningdale 2 council clinic. See, there are doctors all over the place, but my feeling is that they have nothing on the council nurses. Doctors cost an arm and a leg, so they see only a limited number of patients. Nurses on the other hand, are always in the thick of things. So they know what they are doing. And my wife only paid 5 bond dollars and was given all the medication at that price. At a doctors’ I would probably have had to part with something to the tune of 50 United States Dollars.
How to deal with a tick bite on a child
Anyway, the experience has taught me a number of things. The following is how you should deal with a tick bite on a child;
- Don’t forcibly remove the tick. Doing so leaves parts embedded in the skin, which can cause problems later.
- Have an antiseptic ointment ready.
- Should problems become apparent, visit the doctor as soon as is possible.
Anyway, thanks for reading. Don’t hesitate to leave a comment if you have anything to say. Also check out my article on how to tackle high blood pressure.