When a Tick Bites
Ticks are common throughout the United States. They live outdoors in grass, trees, shrubs, and leaf piles. Unfortunately for us, they’re attracted to people and their four-legged pets, and can easily move between the two. If you’ve spent any time outdoors, you’ve likely encountered ticks at some point.
Tick bites are often harmless, in which case they do not cause any noticeable symptoms. However, some tick bites can be dangerous or even deadly. Learn how to recognize ticks, symptoms of tick-borne illnesses, and what to do if a tick bites you.
Tick bites occur most often during early spring to late summer and in areas where there are many wild animals and birds.
Most ticks don’t carry diseases, and most tick bites don’t cause serious health problems. But it is important to remove a tick as soon as you find it. Removing the tick’s body helps you avoid diseases the tick may pass on during feeding.
What Other Bites Resemble a Tick Bites?
Tick bites are usually easy to identify. This is because the tick can remain attached to the skin for a long period of time (several days or even weeks) after it first bites. Most tick bites are harmless and will cause no physical signs or symptoms.
Tick bites are typically singular because ticks do not bite in groups or lines. If your bite site becomes red or swells, the bite may resemble a spider bite.
♦ Ticks are scientifically classified as Arachnida (a classification that includes spiders). The fossil record suggests ticks have been around at least 90 million years.
♦ Most tick bites do not transmit harmful microbes.
♦ There are a variety of tick-borne diseases.
♦ There is a wide range of symptoms that usually develop days to weeks after the tick bites. The symptoms depend on the particular microbe that is transmitted.
♦ For all tick bites, local cleansing and antibiotic cream may be applied.
♦ There are safe and effective methods for the removal of all types of ticks.
Tick Bites Symptoms and Signs
Tick bites are generally painless. Many people may not even notice the bite and may never find the tick if it falls off. Small ticks, like the deer tick that transmits Lyme disease, are so tiny they may be nearly undetectable. Some ticks are about as small as the period at the end of this sentence. However, there are some symptoms that may occur that can be directly related to the tick itself; they are due to the tick bites.
Tick Bites Treatment
The treatment of a given tick exposure will depend on the length of attachment, the type of tick, the tick-borne diseases that have been seen in the community (for example, Lyme disease), and the symptoms developed by the person. Specific medical treatment depends on the pathogen(s) transmitted in the tick bites. The following is a brief summary of treatments:
♦ Local cleansing and antibiotic cream may be applied.
♦ For itching, the doctor may recommend preparations containing diphenhydramine (Benadryl). Benadryl compounds can be applied directly to the skin for itching or administered orally by tablets.
♦ Oral antibiotics may be prescribed for some diseases. With more significant symptoms, you may need antibiotics given through an IV and may need to be hospitalized.
♦ Other treatments may involve more detailed blood tests, fluids and medications given by IV, and admission to the hospital.
Tick Bites Prevention
♦ Avoid grassy areas and shrubs where ticks may be lying in wait to tag a ride on a potential “meal.”
♦ Avoid tick season completely by staying away from outdoor areas where ticks thrive, usually during the months of April through September in the U.S.
♦ Wear light-colored clothing so ticks can be easily seen, and brush them off.
♦ Tuck pants into boots or socks.
♦ Apply insect repellant, specifically the brands designed to repel ticks. Follow label instructions. Avoid use of DEET-containing repellents on children. Carefully follow instructions and apply some repellents directly to skin and others to clothing.