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Tick bites – What you should know

As summer approaches, tick season approaches. Although tick-borne illnesses are infrequent, they can be pretty serious. However, there are several things you can do to avoid tick bites or to treat them quickly if they do occur.

Interesting Tidbits

  • Ticks thrive in grassy, damp areas.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants wedged into your shoes to avoid tick bites.
  • Tick detection and removal are critical for protecting you and your family from tick-borne diseases like Lyme Disease.

Nothing beats exploring the great outdoors with your family as the weather warms up. However, if you plan to hike through dense forest or grassy areas — or anywhere else that is lush and shady — be vigilant for ticks.

What are ticks?

These tiny parasitic spiders attach to the skin, causing bites that can result in tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme Disease (see below). Not all ticks transmit this bacterial infection; approximately 12% of ticks carry it.

Because tick bites are typically painless, you may not even notice you've been bitten (which is why it's critical to check for ticks regularly – see below).

Ticks are at their most active in the spring and summer. While ticks are most prevalent in woodlands and forests, they can be found anywhere damp and shady. They cannot jump or fly, but they are easy to pick up while walking through long grass or greenery. They can be tiny — as small as 0.5mm, or about the size of a poppy seed — and grow to a maximum height of 1.5cm (though their bodies balloon out when they feed).

Symptoms of Lyme Disease

If a tick bites you, you may develop Lyme Disease symptoms. These symptoms usually manifest as redness or a rash around the bite after 1-4 weeks (or anywhere from 3 days to 3 months) (see below). Lyme disease may present with flu-like symptoms such as the following:

  • Fever
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Fatigue
  • Headache

Lyme Disease can progress to more severe symptoms such as persistent fatigue, neurological symptoms, and inflammatory arthritis if left untreated.

What to do if you get bitten by a tick

If you are bitten by a tick or notice a tick bite on your skin, remove it immediately. This can be accomplished with a pair of tweezers. Take the following steps:

  • Squeeze the tick as near the surface of your skin as possible.
  • Take hold of the tick and gently pull it away from the surface of the skin.
  • Examine the bite site to determine if any tick parts remain – such as the head or mouthparts. If this is the case, remove them.
  • Clean the bite site with soap and water.

After the procedure, you can consult a physician to discuss your risks and any potential complications.

How does a tick bite affect skin appearance?

Around three out of every five people bitten by a tick develop a rash in Europe.

At the bite site, the most common type of tick rash occurs. It's pretty distinct, resembling a bull's-eye, with a red circle surrounding the immediate area, followed by a process of clear skin and another ring of redness. These transitional stages may occur gradually. Occasionally, however, this all combines into a single large rash with a darker central circle. In addition, the rash's edges may feel slightly raised.

Although the rash is unlikely to be itchy, it may feel warm to the touch. The majority of rashes appear within the first four weeks of being bitten, but they can appear anywhere between three days and three months after being bitten.

Symptoms to watch for following a tick bite

Are you curious about what happens when a tick bites you? Fortunately, the majority of people will experience no symptoms following a tick bite. However, if you are allergic to tick bites, you should watch for pain and swelling at the site of the bite, a burning sensation, blisters, a rash, and difficulty breathing.

What can I do to avoid being bitten by ticks?

The most straightforward way to avoid being bitten while in tick-infested habitats — such as forest, woodland, or long grass — is to Dress in lengthy shirts and long pants with your socks tucked in.

Additional preventative measures include the following:

  • Using a tick repellent that contains 20%-30% DEET or 20% Picaridin.
  • Applying this repellent to any exposed skin and reapplying it regularly, just as you would a sunscreen.
  • Using a 0.5 percent permethrin (an insecticide) spray or solution to boots, clothing, and camping gear (you can get wash-in formulas effective through several washes)
  • Attempting to keep to the center of paths and trails and avoiding contact with vegetation.
  • Having to carry forceps in your first-aid kit to remove ticks (see below) quickly.

When and where should I conduct tick checks?

If you live in a tick-prone area, check for ticks regularly. The sooner they are removed, the less likely you are to contract tick-borne diseases like Lyme Disease. Generally, for you to become infected, the tick must remain attached to your skin for at least 24 hours.

Adults are most likely to have their lower legs bitten. However, the most frequently bitten areas on children are the head, neck, and armpits.

How do I safely remove a tick?

The most secure method of removing ticks from the bite site is to:

  • Utilize tick-removal tools or tweezers designed specifically for this purpose.
  • Comprehend the tick as closely as possible to the skin.
  • Draw upwards, maintaining a constant even pressure.
  • Never bend or twat the tick, as it may cause the tick's mouthparts to fall off.
  • Antiseptic or soapy water should be used to clean the bite.

Should I consult a physician?

If you develop any Lyme Disease symptoms, contact your doctor immediately and inform them if you have been bitten or believe you have been bitten. Continue to do so even if the symptoms disappear, as this does not always mean the disease has disappeared as well.

If you have suspected or confirmed Lyme Disease, you will almost certainly be prescribed a two- to three-week course of antibiotics to eradicate the bacteria that transmit the disease. Additionally, it is critical to complete the course, even if your symptoms improve.

 

 

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