It’s Tick Season: What You Should (And Should Not) Do If Bitten

Proper tick reduces chance of infection; don’t waste your time with folklore remedies.

When it comes to ticks, timely removal of these embedded pests is key as this reduces the transmission of saliva that could carry harmful diseases. 

Despite the stories you may have heard about removal remedies that have been passed down through the ages, DO NOT do any of the following: twist the tick off or jerk the tick as this may cause the tick’s mouthparts to remain embedded in the skin. Suffocation with Vaseline, fingernail polish, dish soap and cotton balls, or using a hot match can be dangerous and ineffective. Using a Q-tip to circle the embedded tick to distract it and get it to detach is another old wife’s tale.

If bitten, consider identifying the tick type to determine if illnesses could be an issue. 

The website www.tickencounter.com, includes photos of ticks to help determine the next steps as some are more dangerous than others. Or, you can upload a photo of the tick on this site and the TickSpotters service will email you within 24 hours with a confirmed ID and health risk level. 

What many don’t realize is that there are only a few ticks that typically transmit the Lyme-causing bacteria. Blacklegged (also referred to as the Deer tick) and Western Blacklegged ticks are the biggest offenders. Other species of ticks can carry many diseases as well.

While some studies suggest Lyme transmission can take 24 to 72 hours after attachment, there are many other infections that you can get with varying transfer times.  Powassan, a rare severe disease, causing headaches, vomiting and fever, may take as little as 15 minutes to contract and recent deaths from this disease have been reported in Maine and Connecticut.

What to do if bitten by a tick…

It is important to dislodge embedded ticks from the skin’s surface as soon as possible to minimize the effects of the bite.

  1.     Use fine-tipped tweezers as recommended by the CDC such as the TickEase, 2 -sided tweezer for human and pet tick removal www.tickease.com. Made from stainless steel it removes all sizes and types of ticks and can be heat sterilized.
  2.     Steadily grasp the tick; using the tweezers take hold of the tick as close as possible to the skin’s surface and pull upward in a steady motion.
  3.     Use rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to clean the bite area and tweezers when done.
  4.     Attached ticks should never be disposed of or destroyed. Keep them in a zip-loc bag for identification and testing.  Remember a diseased tick does not necessarily transmit illness.
  5.     Call your doctor if…you experience flu like symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle or joint pain, stomach issues or a target-shaped rash that can develop within three to 30 days. If bitten by a tick in area where Lyme is prevalent, a physician may suggest and prescribe a precautionary dose of antibiotics to reduce the risk of getting infected.

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