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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

How to Keep Ticks Off Your Kids

We love to have fun in the sun in the summertime, but remember, ticks are lurking so it is best to take a proactive approach to tick protection. Remind kids about tick safety and remember to check them when they return home after enjoying time outside. 

In wooded areas, brush, and high grass, ticks wait with their arms extended for their next host. This position is called “questing.” They do not jump or fly; rather, they wait for warm-blooded animals or people they detect by body odor, breath, heat, moisture, and vibrations. Some ticks attach to their host quickly, while others look for warm areas where the skin is thinner, warmer, or moist. Here are some quick tips for keeping your family safe from ticks.

Be Proactive

1. Use repellents that contain 20%–30% DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) on exposed skin and clothing for protection that lasts up to several hours. Always follow product instructions. Do not put on a child’s face or hands. For more information about using DEET with kids, see For natural alternatives to DEET, see

2. Use products that contain permethrin on clothing (not on skin). Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks, and tents, with products containing 0.5% permethrin. It remains protective through several washings.

3. Wear light-colored clothing. Light colors make ticks easier to spot, especially tiny deer tick nymphs.

4. Don’t forget to tuck pants inside socks. This creates a protective barrier so ticks cannot easily access the legs.

5. Stay on the path and in sunny areas. Ticks can’t fly or jump, so you have to enter where they like to live, shady areas with low plants, woods, leaves, and shrubs. Picnic in open sunny places.

If You Find an Attached Tick

A tick has a two-pronged mouthpart with tiny backward-pointing barbs that it uses to secure itself to its host, and it uses salivary cement for attachment. To remove a tick, use narrow-tipped tweezers, such as a TickEase, and grasp it as close to the skin as possible; then slowly and steadily pull upward. If the mouthparts remain in the skin, don’t worry, they will work themselves out eventually. 

When You Get Home

The family should bathe or shower and put their clothes in a dryer on high heat for 20 minutes to kill hitchhiking ticks as soon as possible (preferably within two hours). The shower will help you locate ticks that might be crawling on you or your kids, looking for a nice place to bite. Conduct a full-body tick check on all members of the family. Use a full-length mirror to view all parts of your body. Check for ticks under the arms, around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in the hair. Don’t neglect crevices!

For more information, visit