One of my children got a tick bite this week right here in the city–just walking in a ravine. If I didn’t have a friend who had tried to get a Lyme’s diagnosis, I wouldn’t ever have given my daughters’ rash a thought. I’d have just tossed it off as one of those weird skin things that come up all the time. Kids get rashes. But I know better and I want everyone else to know better, too.
My d complained of an itch and a sting, but it didn’t look out of the ordinary at first. The morning after the walk, it was just a large diffuse pink patch, like any skin reaction. She called me at lunchtime from school and thank God she did. When I walked down to the school office to have a look, she was in good spirits, ready to run back to her classroom, worried that she’d be late as lunch was over. I stopped her, had a look at what she called, entirely accurately, “a pepperoni.” It looked just like a slice of pepperoni, just as round, just as red, and about the same size.
It was too regularly shaped to be an ordinary rash. I went home and googled tick bites. Yup–there it was, looking just like my child’s red spot. Because of my friend, I know that if caught immediately, the infection from a tick bite is quite treatable. But if ignored, the rash disappears, and the infection continues internally. Months and even years later when systemic and severe symptoms erupt, it is difficult to diagnose and difficult to treat.
I went home and called the pediatrician, who told me to bring my daughter in right away. The pediatrician confirmed that yes indeed it did look exactly like a tick bite, and caution dictated antibiotics, not only to prevent Lyme Disease, but to prevent cellulitis, too. So I found out something I didn’t know: that any infected insect bite can cause cellulitis, which is an inflamation of connective tissue and fat. If untreated the infection can spread to blood and lymph nodes and become very serious.
Lyme’s is on the move due to climate change and habitat change. It’s difficult to confirm when it’s reached a new area because someone has to catch the tick, keep it, and then have it analysed. A diligent and conscientious doctor, like my children’s pediatrician, is aware that even if there aren’t any confirmed infected ticks, Lyme’s is a possibility. I took the prescription to the pharmacy, got it filled, and my daughter started on it right away.
I’m proud of her. She is only eight years old, and has never called from school before. But she honoured her instinct to call me and she was wise. I’m grateful to our pediatrician. And I want to tell everyone I know what to look for.