Even if your children are incredibly hygienic, they could still accidentally bring unwanted critters into your home. Over the course of a few weeks, a few stray bugs can turn into a major problem that brings your life to a grinding halt. Catching and addressing a pest infestation early on will allow you to avoid quite a few headaches down the road, as well as maintain the health and safety of your family.

Ticks

Ticks are parasitic arachnids that attach themselves to mammals in order to consume their blood. These pests carry a wide array of diseases including anaplasmosis, relapsing fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Lyme disease. The most effective way to get rid of ticks is to thoroughly clean all of the fabric throughout your home. You can also spray the outside of your home with a mild insecticide. If your area is prone to ticks, then it’s important that you check your children for them regularly. Ticks appear as little black spots on the skin that, upon closer inspection, can easily be identified as a foreign object rather than a freckle or spot of melanin. To remove them from the skin, do not try to pull them out with sudden force as that can leave the head detached in the skin. Instead, use tweezers to grab as much of the tick as possible, then carefully and steadily pull upward until it releases. After that, thoroughly clean the spot with rubbing alcohol or soap and water. Special tick-removing tools can also be purchased online if you get ticks often.

Bed Bugs

Getting rid of a bed bug infestation is going to require time and patience. Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to kill, and many people don’t realize that an infestation has occurred until these bugs have spread to multiple rooms. If there are bed bugs in one piece of furniture, assume that they are in all rooms of the house as they will travel. They can walk from room to room and be carried into the house on clothes, luggage, and even in common objects like books. If you believe that your children have brought these pests into your home, then you should contact an exterminator for professional bed bug removal services, as only a thorough heat treatment can completely eradicate them. Signs of bed bugs include blood spots on sheets, bites appearing on your skin after you sleep, bad smells, and of course, any sight of the insect itself.

Scabies

Many parents are surprised to hear that scabies is actually a form of mange that is caused by microscopic mites. This skin condition is very common among children, and the best way to treat it is with prescription ointments. When left untreated, scabies will usually result in open sores, visible rashes, and crusty skin. A child who has scabies might also complain that they are very itchy or uncomfortable at night. To avoid this, make sure your children know not to touch wild animals or pets that have contracted scabies themselves.

Lice

These wingless insects are commonly found in hair and hair care products and are extremely contagious. While they don’t jump like some believe, they are spread by hair to hair contact and contact with any chairs, hats, hairbrushes, combs, and anything else that has come into contact with a child’s hair. The most common symptom of lice is scalp irritation, but you might also notice some redness on your child’s neck or ears. Nits along the hairline can be mistaken as dandruff. To be sure, pull on the dandruff or nit, and if it comes off easily, it’s dandruff. Nits are very firmly placed near the follicles of the hair and cling with incredible grip. In order to get rid of lice, put what can be into the drier. Lice that have come free can survive for up to 48 hours without a host, so whatever can’t be heat treated and washed should be isolated for at least that long. While there are many chemical treatments, none are completely effective in a single treatment. The only way to eradicate them all in one go is with heat treatments, which kills both nits and adults in one go.

The best way to prevent these infestations is to make sure that your children maintain strict hygiene habits at all times. That includes washing their hands as soon as they get home, bathing every day, and washing all of their dirty clothes at least once a week. Many pests have become more resilient over the years, however, and so checking your child’s skin and hair regularly, especially for the younger ones who may not speak up on their own, is essential to catch these things early.

By Lizzie Weakley

Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and walks in the park with her three-year-old husky, Snowball.

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