Developed by

Tick Bite

By Bjarne Lühr Hansen PhD, MD and Philipp Skafte-Holm MD, Mentor Institute

A tick can transfer the bacteria Borrelia to your child. Therefore the tick must be removed instantly. You can remove the tick by yourself. Contact the doctor if a ring-shaped rash appears where the tick has bitten the child. If your child becomes drowsy or partly paralysed you must call the doctor immediately.

The tick bite itself is not dangerous. However, one in every fifth tick has a certain bacteria – called Borrelia – in its stomach. When a tick with Borrelia in its stomach bites a child there is a risk that the bacteria is transferred to the wound. If this is the case the child can develop more or less serious symptoms of the disease ‘Borreliosis’ also known as Lyme disease.

The high season for ticks is from April to October. Ticks thrive in moist, shadow rich terrain predominantly in deciduous forests and particularly in clearings with tall grass. The tick sits at the top of a straw of grass and when the child runs by and touches the grass it catches a hold with its teeth. Most often the tick bites down on the nape or the hairline with smaller children, while larger children are most often bitten on arms and legs.

The tick at first appears as a small black spot on the skin that does not brush off. As the tick sucks blood it grows and later the body and head appears where you can see the jaw biting down on the skin.

Borrelia can be transferred with the tick bite. This is why it is important that the tick is removed instantly.

If the child is infected with the Borrelia bacteria two different scenarios may develop:

A. Ring-shaped rash around the tick bite
It can take from 3 days to one month after the bite, till the rash begins. The rash starts as a small red spot that spreads in the course of a few weeks. While the redness spreads, the skin by the bite itself becomes clear. This is why the rash has the shape of a ring spreading – just like a ‘fairy ring’ on the lawn. Half of all children who develop this rash will have a light fever, headache and complain about pains all over the body.

B. Inflammation in the nervous system
Inflammation in the nervous system is what all fear when bitten by a tick. However, it is very rare that a tick bite leads to this kind of inflammation.

Typically the child will complain about pains radiating out into arms and legs. It will have difficulty doing things it usually does, for example running, walking, crawling or eating. This is due to the fact that the strength of arms and legs is diminished. Some individuals will have actual paralyses in arms, legs or in one half of the face.

Finally the child can become drowsy.

Click here to read about how you evaluate your child


The bacteria only transfers from tick to child. There is no contagion from one child to another.

Day care:
The child is kept at home until it can participate in its usual activities without extra care.


A Borrelia infection must be treated with penicillin.

What can you do?

A tick should be removed as fast as possible. It is easiest to remove a tick with a special tool you can buy in the pharmacy. With caution and patience, it is possible to remove a tick with the fingers. With two fingers, you grip the back of the body of the tick. Then you do a long slow pull while screwing out the tick. It is important not to crush the back of the body of the tick because this will push the Borrelia bacteria directly into the bite wound. When the tick is removed a part of the jaw often remains but it is harmless and will fall off in a few days. After every tick bite, a little red spot appears which will diminish in a few days – this is not to be mistaken for the spreading ring-shaped rash.

Contact the doctor tomorrow

If a ring-shaped rash spreads from the tick bite.

Contact the doctor immediately

If you suspect inflammation of the nervous system – meaning that the child suffers from paralyses or drowsiness.