Ticks spread many diseases, not just in animals, but in humans as well. So, if you feel you have been bitten by a tick, it is important to see a doctor, even if you have no symptoms. Tick bites occur not just when you have pets, but even when you go on hikes or during camping in the woods. Ticks love grassy trails and if you have been back from one, it is important that you examine your body for attached ticks. If you do find a tick attached, follow the important instructions given below to remove them quickly:
- Use tweezers with a fine tip to grasp the tick.
- Grab the tick as close as you can to its mouth (inserted parts). Vertically pull the tick out so as to ensure removing all of the tick. Even if a single part gets left behind in your skin, you are at a risk for Lyme disease.
- Pull the tick out vertically. Do not squeeze an engorged tick. The blood that comes out due to squeezing can also cause infections, should you have a cut on your hand.
- Drop the tick in a clear plastic bag for identification later.
- Wash your hands with warm water and antibacterial soap.
- Wash the site of the bite with warm water and some dishwashing soap such as Dawn®. You can also clean the bite with rubbing alcohol, iodine scrub or regular soap and water.
- Immediately apply an antiseptic cream to the bite.
- Cover the bite with a sterile bandage.
- Wash your hands again and again over the next few hours.
- Examine your body and those of others in your group to remove any other attached ticks.
Preventing tick bites
The best tick bite treatment is prevention. Here are some top tips that can help you avoid a trip to the doctor after a tick bite:
- Spray insect repellents with DEET all over exposed body parts. Do not get the product in the eyes.
- Wear clothing treated with permethrin
- Wear socks and full pants with bottoms tucked inside the socks. Wear sneakers or covered shoes.
- Wear a hat and protect your neck with a scarf.
- Wear a full sleeved shirt.
- Shower as soon as you can.
- Wash all clothing you have used during camping with hot water, detergent and/or bleach. Also dry them on the highest setting of the dryer to kill tick larvae and eggs.
Do tick bites itch?
Many times, hikers and campers come home with an itchy sensation and fear they might have been bitten by a tick. The fact is: many insect bite reactions caused by different bugs produce same or similar symptoms. Therefore, one can never tell for sure if one has been bitten by a tick. If you notice a tick attached to your body, then you know that you are a victim of a tick bite. That being said, do watch out for certain signs and symptoms that are typically seen after a tick bite:
- Tick bite rash– This is peculiar ‘target’ like or ‘bulls-eye’ like rash. We will show some tick bite rash pictures on humans later in this article.
- Swelling– Tick bites rarely cause a swelling. However, in some sensitive people, swelling or edema is common.
- Itching– The tick’s saliva contains proteins which help them easily suck the blood from the host. Our body counters this by producing histamine which gives rise to an itchy sensation. You can take an antihistamine medicine like Bendryl to counter itchiness.
Home remedies for tick bite to avoid a trip to the doctor’s office
- After washing the area clean with soap, apply an ice pack on the tick bite to reduce swelling and other symptoms. You can ice the area for at least 15-20 minutes.
- Crush an aspirin tablet and apply its paste on the bite. Aspirin contains salicylic acid that neutralizes the venom and eases itching and pain. Simply leave the aspirin paste on the bite and let it dry naturally.
When to see a doctor after a tick bite?
The bite of a black legged or deer tick can transmit bacteria which can lead to Lyme disease. That should help you answer the question: Should I go to a doctor for a tick bite? This is because Lyme disease needs prescription antibiotics for treatment and failure to take such medicines can lead to chronic symptoms which could even last for years. Lyme disease is typically characterized by following symptoms:
- Facial paralysis
- Swollen and painful joints
- Chills and fever
- Muscle aches and pain
- Stiff neck
- General malaise
If these symptoms develop, do not hesitate to see your doctor immediately. Treatment usually includes a round of antibiotics which can ease the symptoms within 2-3 days. Take plenty of rest during this period and complete the dose of antibiotics as prescribed. If you fail to seek immediate treatment after tick bite or take wrong medication, then it could lead to complications which can lead to symptoms that are harder to treat.
Tick bite pictures