Taking Ticks Seriously: What To Do If A Tick Bites You
Whether you’re trekking through tall grass or live in a dense, woody area, you should always be on the lookout for ticks. Ticks often lurk in shaded, moist, grassy areas, waiting patiently to crawl aboard an unwitting host. And unfortunately, most of the time, you won’t notice them because they’re so small.
With this in mind, you should try to avoid tick bites at all costs by wearing long sleeves and long pants as the first line of defense if you venture into the woods. You can also invest in Newton, MA Tick Control services to keep the ticks away.
While there are excellent tick control services and precautions that you can take to prevent tick bites, ticks are very sneaky. So, if you happen to find a tick latched onto your limbs, consider the following steps to remove these tiny terrors.
Remove The Tick
After you see a tick latched on your skin, you should remove it as quickly as possible. To do this, you will need the following things:
- Soap and water or rubbing alcohol
Before removing the tick, clean the tweezers with rubbing alcohol or soap and water to disinfect the tool. Next, it’s put your gloves on and begin removing the tick.
Start by getting as close to the skin as possible, attempting to grab the tick with your tweezers. Holding as close to the base as possible will give you the upper hand, making the tick more likely to pop off.
Unfortunately, you might leave the head inside your skin if you pull the tick from its legs or the end of its body, resulting in potential infection. That said, most of the time, your body can push out the head on its own.
Clean The Tick Bite Area
You should wash the tick bite with soap and water or rubbing alcohol to ensure there’s no more tick saliva or other contamination. Then put an even layer of antibacterial ointment on the wound if you’re concerned about infection.
Identify The Type Of Tick
If you’re unsure if the tick you found may carry Lyme Disease (most often from black-legged ticks), you should try to identify the type. There are various types of ticks all around the United States, but each has specific characteristics.
American Dog Ticks
American dog ticks are widespread and common. Characterized by their brown bodies and grey-white markings, these ticks are relatively harmless with proper treatment. However, be wary of Rocky Mountain Fever, a rare ailment of the American Dog Tick.
Brown Dog Ticks
Brown dog ticks have brown and red-colored bodies. Just like American dog ticks, Brown dog ticks can spread Rocky Mountain Fever.
Black Legged Deer Ticks
Black-legged deer ticks have black to dark brown heads and legs, with a light brown to red coloring on their bodies. These variations can carry Lyme disease, so be wary when identifying each tick and lesion.
Groundhog ticks are easier to pick out as they tend to be varying shades of beige and tan, while other tick species are black or dark brown. These lighter insects rarely bite humans but do carry the Powassan virus.
Lone Star Ticks
Lone star ticks are another easy species to pick out due to their distinctive markings. Both male and female lone star ticks have dark brown bodies. The female has a white dot in the center of her body, while the males have varying white markings.
Pacific Coast Ticks
Pacific coast ticks have dark brown bodies with white spotting patterns, but the females have fewer spots.
Rocky Mountain Wood Ticks
Rocky Mountain wood ticks are another rather dangerous species, as they can also spread Rocky Mountain Fever. You can identify them through their brown bodies, which typically have a white spot around their heads.
Soft ticks look similar to beans, with brown, oval-shaped wrinkly bodies.
Western Black-Legged Ticks
Western black-legged ticks are another Lyme-disease-carrying insect that looks very similar to the black-legged deer tick with a slightly more oval shape.
What To Do Once You Remove The Tick
You should save the tick in a container with rubbing alcohol for your doctor if you think it could be a black-legged tick. However, if you’re positive it’s not a threat to your health, consider the following steps to kill the tick:
- Place the tick in alcohol
- Wrap the tick in tape
- Flush the tick down the toilet
Monitor For Lyme Disease And Other Tick-Borne Illnesses
Once you notice a tick bite, start self-monitoring for any possible signs of Lyme Disease and other tick-borne illnesses. Lyme Disease is one of the most common tick-borne illnesses you can contract, so stay vigilant about tracking symptoms.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease can happen anywhere from three days to a few months after you were bitten and include:
- Flu-like symptoms such as a headache, fever, chills, muscle aches, and fatigue
- A bullseye rash, which occurs in 70% to 80% of Lyme-infected people
- Other rashes
- Joint, muscle, bone pain, and stiffness
- Dizziness and shortness of breath
If you develop any of these symptoms after a tick bite, you should contact your doctor immediately to receive testing and begin antibiotics.
Just remember: other tick-borne illnesses, such as Rocky Mountain Fever, have similar symptoms. So make sure you check with your doctor at the first sign of complication.
Visit Your Doctor
Visiting your doctor after any tick bite is always a good idea, especially if you feel concerned about a tick-borne illness or if the head of the tick is still stuck in the skin. Your doctor can test your blood for diseases and help remove the tick’s head in a medically sanitized setting.
If you saved the tick in a container, you should bring this with you to show the doctor. They can help determine which species of tick it is and whether further testing is necessary.
If your doctor finds or suspects you have Lyme Disease or another illness, they will typically start you on antibiotics to get rid of the infection.
Being bitten by a tick can be a frightening experience. However, you can do your best to prevent bites with the correct precautions, such as tick control and extermination services.