Identifying Tick Bites

Identifying tick bites quickly because many serious diseases are transmitted to people through tick bites each year. Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and various types of encephalitis are transmitted through seemingly innocent tick bites. While most ticks are not disease carriers and most tick bites are not significant, you will want to avoid ticks and carefully watch tick bites for suspicious symptoms.

When a tick bites you, it uses barbed mouthparts to embed itself in your skin and access your blood. The tick will also secrete a numbing solution so that you will be less likely to discover it and disturb its meal. Some ticks are big enough to be easily seen; other ticks are so tiny that you will not notice them, even as small as a pinhead.

Removing Ticks
If a tick bites you and the tick is still attached, you will need to remove the tick without leaving any of the tick's mouthparts or head still embedded in your skin. The best way to do this is to take hold of the tick with a set of tweezers as close to the head as possible and gently pull the tick out. If you are patient, you can smother the tick in Vaseline and wait for the tick to let go on its own; it will let go because it needs to breathe, but this may take a while.  Place the tick on a piece of scotch tape and tape it to a piece of paper in case you need to identify the tick later on.

If you are not able to remove the head or mouthparts of the tick, see a doctor immediately.

Tick Bite Treatment
After you remove the tick, take these tick bite first aid steps:

  1. Wash the bite site with soapy water
  2. Apply triple antibiotic ointment
  3. Take an oral dose of Benadryl
  4. Keep an eye on the bite site and pay attention to symptoms over the next week

Tick Bite Symptoms
If you did not see the tick bite you, but you are experiencing unusual symptoms and suspect you may have been bitten by a tick, you should look to for these identifying symptoms:

  • Redness and irritation at bite site
  • Rash
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Painful, swollen joints
  • Achy muscles
  • Headache
  • Heart palpitations
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Paralysis
  • Stiff neck

If you are concerned that you may have a tick-related disease, see your doctor for blood tests and for continued treatment. If you have the tick that bit you, bring it with you for identification.

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