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Children's Health

Tick bite

06/11/2008

Question:

I recently noticed a rash on my daughters head. She had been up north at he grandparents. He brother found a tick on his back on a Tuesday. A week later she complained of her head itching. I noticed a small bump a week or so earlier. The when I looked she had this red irregular rash. Can a tick embed itself in a pesrons scalp? If so would there be some sign of a bite mark?

Answer:

My guess is that this is not a tic bite. Tic bites are not usually itchy. The Lyme disease tic, which is common in Ohio and all over the eastern part of the US, causes a large, perfectly round sore called a target lesion.

It is far more likely that she has ringworm of the scalp, also called tinea capitis. It produces a scaly, red and itchy rash that spreads and easily becomes infected, usually with Staphylococcus bacteria, from scratching. It may also go on to develop a yellow, oozing area called a kerion. It is important to have her doctor examine the rash and prescribe medication to stop the fungal growth and make sure there is no infection with bacteria. Topical treatments such as shampoos, creams or ointments will not cure this condition.

If this is the diagnosis, it is important that hair brushes and combs, hair ties and other hair care items not be shared among family members. If anyone else at home has an itchy scalp, they should be checked for ringworm as well because it is easily spread. Wash and disinfect all hair care items.

Your daughter may have picked up the disease from infected dogs or cats. If family members have pets, they should look over their animals to make sure they do not have skin problems that will spread to family members. If they do have rashes or bald spots, they should be taken for care to protect their human caregivers.

I hope this is helpful information.

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Response by:

Mary M Gottesman, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN Mary M Gottesman, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN
Professor of Clinical Nursing
College of Nursing
The Ohio State University