Don't panic. Ticks can transmit infection only after they've attached themselves to the skin and drawn blood into their bodies. Even then, they usually need to have been attached for a significant period of time (12 to 48 hours). If you see a tick crawling on your baby's clothing, or it's on his skin and is still small, there's really nothing to worry about.

If the tick has attached itself, you should remove it as soon as possible. Forget any advice you've heard about applying petroleum jelly, fingernail polish, or a hot match to the end of the tick. Those home remedies almost never work. In fact, irritating the tick may cause it to regurgitate its stomach contents into your baby's blood, increasing the risk of infection.

Although it's not foolproof, the best way to remove a tick is to pull it out gently with tweezers. Grasp the bug as close to where it's connected to the skin as you can, and slowly lift it away from the skin.

Try not to squeeze the tick's body, which may release the blood back into your baby's bloodstream if the tick is engorged. And don't twist or jerk the tweezers or you may break off the tick's body, leaving the head behind, which can lead to infection.

Once you've removed the tick, wash the bite area and your hands with soap and water, then apply an antiseptic lotion. Dispose of the tick in the toilet or by putting it in a plastic bag and then in the garbage.

Be sure to check the rest of your baby's body for other ticks. Look carefully at his scalp, armpits, groin area, and between his fingers and toes — these are some of ticks' favorite hiding places.



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