The days of summer are winding down, which means many will be getting out to soak up the outdoors. It also means that those partaking in outside activities will be exposed to ticks.
If you find a tick on your skin, don’t panic. Studies show that it usually takes 36 hours for a tick to adhere, feed, and transmit Lyme disease. If you remove the tick prior to that time, there is very little chance of infection.
Here are some steps for dealing with tick bites:
- Use fine-tipped tweezers for removal.
- Hold the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull the skin taught while lifting the tick straight up. Twisting or pulling quickly could leave some of the tick’s mouth parts embedded.
- Do not attempt to squeeze the body of the tick. It could actually inject fluids from the tick into your skin; that’s the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve.
- Avoid applying any substances like nail polish or petroleum jelly to tick while it is attached, no matter how many self-help videos you may see online.
- Be sure to sanitize your hands and the bite location once the tick is removed. And check yourself again, if you have one tick, there could be more.
- Watch the site of the tick bite for two weeks. Often ticks attach in hard-to-see areas, so you may need to use a large mirror, but be vigilant. Look out for an expanding red rash around the bite area. It could feel tender or warm or have a raised bump.
- 70%-80% of Lyme disease presents with a visible rash. If you believe you could be infected, consult your doctor as soon as possible.
- The University of Rhode Island has an entire Resource Center dedicated to identifying and tracking ticks in all areas of the U.S. You can take a picture of the suspect tick and send it to the Center and within 1-3 days, (at no cost) their researchers will advise you regarding the tick.
- If you want the tick tested for diseases such as Lyme, URI offers a low-cost service for that as well. Just go to: http://www.tickencounter.org/tick_testing.
- There are other diseases linked to ticks in varying regions of the country.