Many scientists believe that 2017 will be a troublesome year for ticks in our area due to the mild winter weather. So it’s important to know what to do if you find a tick on your body because some ticks in our area can transmit dangerous diseases. The deer tick (also known as the black-legged tick) can carry Lyme disease. Other ticks, such as the Lone Star tick, can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
You don’t have to go camping to get bitten by a tick, people are often bitten right in their own backyards. Remember that a tick bite is usually painless. That’s why it’s important to check yourself, your kids, and your pets for ticks each day, especially during the warmer months. Keep in mind that it takes about 24 – 36 hours for a tick to transmit pathogens into your bloodstream. So if you can find and remove a tick promptly, the transmission of disease can be prevented.
If you do find a tick attached to yourself, don’t panic, just follow the guidelines below:
- Find some tweezers. Carefully go under the head of the tick with the tweezers and pull the mouth of the tick away from your skin. Don’t squeeze the body of the tick which can increase the chance of pathogens getting into your bloodstream.
- After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water. If you wish, you can dispose of the tick by submersing it in alcohol or flushing it down the toilet.
- See if tick-borne diseases are present in your area. A good place to check is the website of your state’s health department, which can inform you if Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases are being reported near you. You can rest easier if no disease was likely present when you were bitten.
- Look for a rash. It’s important to monitor your health if you think you have been bitten by a tick. It can take a few days or even weeks for symptoms to appear. Look for a rash that is red and expanding. (It doesn’t have to be the classic, bulls-eye rash associated with Lyme disease.) If you have an expanding rash, or other symptoms such as a headache, fever or flu-like symptoms, see a doctor immediately. Early treatment is very important to prevent more severe problems later on.
Learn more about how to prevent tick bites here.