Tick Bite Treatment

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Are you suffering from a Tick Bite?

Tick bites can be tricky. You cannot feel them, the tick can latch onto a part of the body that is difficult for you to see, and they have the potential to spread diseases. Ticks can spread Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, among others. Therefore, prevention is key, but if you end up getting a tick bite, you must act as quickly as you can.

Common Tick Bite Symptoms

  • Red spot/rash or itchiness around the area where the tick is
  • Local rashes can progress to a full body rash
  • Headache
  • Neck stiffness
  • Nausea
  • Muscle pain
  • Weakness
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever and chills
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Frequently Asked Questions

What does a tick bite look like?

When you check for tick bites it is important to look for redness, irritation, or rash. These indicate that you might have been bitten by a tick. Tick bites can look like mosquito bites, but if you look closely, you are likely to see the tick still latching onto your skin – unlike mosquito bites.

What should I do if I’ve been bitten by a tick?

If you see a tick bite – you will see the tick, there – it is important that you remove the tick carefully. To remove it from you skin, do the following:

  • Using fine-tipped tweezers, grab the tick as close to your skin as possible
  • Pull the tick upward slowly with a steady hand
  • Do not twist when you pull. If you do, you risk leaving part of the tick inside your skin
  • Place the tick in a plastic bag or container – your doctor might want to see it
  • Take a close-up picture of the tick with a cell phone just in case you lose the bag or clear container 
  • Never touch the tick with your hands
  • Do not use any kind of substance like petroleum jelly, or heat from matches, cigarettes, or car lighters to remove the tick. Use the tweezers only
  • Wash your hands and the bite thoroughly
  • Disinfect the bite

When should I worry about a tick bite?

You should always take tick bites seriously. If you see one, remove the tick following our instructions above. It is prudent to contact your doctor after you have identified that you were bitten by a tick.

Even if you take every precaution possible, you might get bitten by a tick anyway. If the tick is still there when you notice the bite, you can identify clearly what bit you and you can follow the procedure above to extricate the insect from your skin safely.

Sometimes, however, the tick either fails to latch onto your skin or falls off after a while. Therefore, you should be able to identify the bite: it is shaped like a bullseye.

If you see one of these bullseye bites or a strange, itchy rash after you have been outdoors, it is important that you consult with a healthcare professional immediately. Ticks transmit diseases that can be severe, like Lyme, and since you would not know how long the tick was in your skin for, you cannot rule out anything.

To prevent tick bites more successfully, it is important to understand some basic characteristics about this insects. Ticks are notorious for:

  • Being slow
  • Not being able to fly or leap/jump
  • Being mediocre climbers

If ticks are so bad at moving, how do they latch onto your skin? Simple:

  • They crawl close to the ground
  • Latch onto your boots or even the bottom of your pants
  • They start crawling upward to find exposed skin

Therefore, prevention requires you to not only use long-sleeved clothes, but even layers of clothes or have the end of your garments tucked into the next piece of clothing.

For example, if you wear gloves when you hike, tucking your long-sleeved shirt under your gloves will make it more difficult for a tick crawling up your hand to find exposed skin. Given the fact that ticks are particularly slow, this technique will also give you more time to spot the tick and trap it – remember never to handle ticks with your bare hands.

Tick-borne Diseases

It is also important to note that there is a wide range of tick-borne diseases. Apart from Lyme – which is portably the most well-known tick-borne disease – and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), there are a variety of viral and bacterial diseases, as well as parasitic infections.

Apart from Lyme and RMSF, here are some of the viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections you can get from tick bites:

  • Babesiosis – This is a parasitic infection from Babesia parasites that infect red blood cells. One in five people diagnosed with Babesiosis also have Lyme Disease
  • Anaplasmosis – A bacterial disease transmitted by black-legged ticks or deer ticks. It is worse than Lyme
  • Ehrlichiosis – Another bacteria disease that ticks can spread. It is not as common as other tick-borne diseases
  • Powassan Virus – A form of arbovirus infection that can result in encephalitis. People who get Lyme can also get this viral infection at the same time. Deer ticks spread this virus.
  • Borrelia Miyamotoi Disease – Related to Lyme’s Disease. It causes relapsing fever, but it is rare
  • Borrelia Mayonii Disease – Also transmitted by black-legged ticks. This disease is similar to Lyme, and it has only been identified in Wisconsin and Minnesota
  • Tularemia – Another tick-borne bacterial disease. It typically causes ulcers in the area where the tick bite is and swelling of lymph nodes. This disease is rare, but it can also be severe

Tick Bites Outside the US

The diseases above and the kind of tick that spread them, are prevalent in the US. Some might also be present in the wooded areas of countries like Russia. Nevertheless, if you are going to travel abroad, you should check for the kinds of ticks and the diseases the transmit in the places you are travelling to.

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If you think or have any doubt that you are experiencing a medical emergency, you should immediately seek emergency care by calling 911, or any other emergency service.