Ticks are small, bloodsucking parasites that may transmit tick-borne diseases to people or animals. Common diseases you can get from a tick bite are Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, or ehrlichiosis. Many ticks are so tiny you don’t see them and don’t realize they were on you until you get a bite or later or notice the symptoms of a previous tick bite. They can attach to your skin if you are outdoors and walking through areas with leaf litter, shrubs, or tall glass.
How to Avoid Tick Bites
If you’re planning to spend some time outdoors in areas where ticks are prevalent, such as tall grass or shrubs, it helps to know how to avoid tick bites. To avoid a tick bite where ticks are present, you should tuck your pant legs into your socks, use a chemical repellant containing DEET, such as picaridin or permethrin, wear clothing that is light-colored, check yourself, pets, and children on a daily basis for signs of ticks and remove them, and of course avoid tick-infested areas whenever possible.
Signs of Tick Bites
A tick bite site is usually painless and many people don’t notice the bite area until you find the tick after it falls off, or you may never know there was a tick attached to you. However some symptoms may be related to tick bites including muscle weakness, slow and shallow breathing, paralysis, redness, itching, burning, and sometimes mild pain near the bite site. Other symptoms relate to tick-borne diseases, including flu-like symptoms, fever, rash, confusion, weakness, numbness, pain and swelling of the joints, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and nausea and vomiting.
Diagnosing Tick Bites
There isn’t an official test that looks for a tick bite and there isn’t a way to determine the type of tick once it dislodges itself from the body. However doctors may be able to ask a series of questions and perform a physical examination to find out whether or not the symptoms you are experiencing are indeed from a tick bite. However, there are tests to look for tick-borne diseases including a blood test to check for Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, tularemia, or Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Treating a Tick Bite
If you have already received the tick bite and the tick has dislodged from your body, there isn’t much treatment needed unless you’re showing signs of a tick-borne disease. However if the tick still remains, you will need to go through the necessary steps to remove it. Use tweezers and protect your hands with gloves to avoid the pathogens from spreading. Flip the tick on its back with the tweezers and grasp it firmly and close to your skin. Pull it gently until it comes free, being careful not to twist or turn it as you might not get the entire tick out in one motion.