Ticks are nasty little blood-sucking creatures. Even though they’re small, they can cause big problems. But don’t let them ruin your outdoor fun. We’ve got some tips for preventing tick bites, recognizing and treating them, and knowing when to get your doctor involved.
Ticks like to hang out in areas that have tall grass and/or lots of trees and brush. So, if you’re going to be in those areas, you’ll definitely want to take steps to keep those creepy crawlies off you.
Ways to prevent tick bites include:
- Wear a hat and light-colored clothing.
- If you’re wearing long pants, tuck the pant legs into your socks.
- Treat your body, clothing and gear with a good tick repellent.
- Walk in the center of nature trails, away from the brush.
Once, you’re back indoors:
- Check your clothing, gear and dog (if he joined you on your adventure).
- Do a thorough, full-body tick check — paying special attention to warm, moist areas including armpits, groin, back of knees, in and behind ears, under breasts, in your belly button and in your hair.
- Shower as soon as possible.
- Wash clothing in hot water (cold and warm water will not kill ticks).
Tick Bite Treatment
When ticks bite you, they stay attached to feed on your blood. The sooner you remove a tick, the less chance you have of contracting a disease from it.
To remove a tick:
- Use fine-tipped tweezers.
- Grip the tick as close to your skin as possible.
- Pull it out gently in a straight-up motion.
- Do not squeeze or twist the tick as you remove it.
- Avoid touching the tick with your bare hands.
- Clean your hands and the bite well, using warm water and soap or rubbing alcohol.
- Kill the tick by soaking it in rubbing alcohol.
- Consider saving the tick to show your doctor if it becomes necessary (store it in a container in your freezer).
- Monitor your bite for a few weeks.
When to Get Medical Care
Most tick bites are harmless and just leave a tiny sore or red spot. But remember, it’s important to clean every bite thoroughly and keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t get worse.
Some tick bites have the potential to cause serious illness, such as:
- Lyme Disease
- Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI)
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)
You should see your doctor right away if:
- You cannot completely remove the tick.
- The bite gets redder or starts to ooze.
- You think you were bitten by a deer tick.
- You develop any of the following symptoms: rash, headache, fever, chills, fatigue or muscle/joint pain.
When to Get Emergency Medical Care
Call 911 immediately if you experience any of the following:
- Severe headache
- Difficulty breathing
- Paralysis (difficulty moving any part(s) of your body)
- Racing or pounding heart