When you’re out enjoying the great days of summer—strolling through the park, camping or getting elbow deep in yard work—little creatures such as ticks can cling to you without a pinch.
Ticks, tiny arachnids that relate more to spiders than to mosquitos, are known for spreading diseases, which is what makes them such a concern. Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme Disease are just two of the serious diseases these blood sucking species carry. Although only a small percent of ticks carry disease, it is still wise to use caution when outside to keep you, your family and even your pets safe.
Spotting a Tick
Nilanjana Dey, CNP, at ProMedica Urgent Care, said knowing the different types of ticks can help with treatment if you are bit. In Ohio, there are two types of ticks: the deer tick, found in wooded areas, and the less common dog tick. It’s also wise to know the different ticks spread around the country if you are travelling in case you are bit.
“The deer tick that causes Lyme disease is most common is the Atlantic region, Michigan, and Ohio,” Dey said. “The Rocky Mountain is more of the rocky mountain area.”
If a tick is attached to you, a family member or a pet, the sooner you find it, the better. That’s because a tick that’s attached for more than 36 hours is a cause for concern. If the tick has only been attached to the skin for a short time, the risk of disease is not as high.
Some may think that if a tick is attached, you will immediately know, but this isn’t true. In most cases, you won’t even feel it. Dey said it’s great to use the buddy system to check each other for ticks. If you are just checking yourself, she said you can use a mirror.
Removing a Tick
Unfortunately, there are many myths of how to remove a tick. “Some people think to use gasoline, or petroleum, nail polish, or burn it with a match stick,” Dey said. There is a proper way to remove the creature without leaving any mouth parts behind.
“Get a fine tweezer and grip the tick very close to the skin, as close as possible. Then just pull it straight and firm with a steady pressure,” she advised. “Do not jerk or twist it because that could break the tick.”
The reason for not wanting to break the tick is because this may have you in contact with the tick’s blood, which raises your risk of getting a disease from a tick. Not squeezing or crushing the tick is a very crucial step. If you’ve removed the tick correctly, there’s no need to worry about leaving extra pieces of tick under the skin. They eject themselves, or a health care provider can remove them.
When the frightening part of removing the tick is over, place the tick in a container with the date and location of the bite in the case of the victim becoming ill, Dey said. Taking a picture of the tick can also be helpful to diagnose the tick and what type of disease that specific one carries.
In this part of the country, the real concern from a tick bite is the risk of getting Lyme Disease. If this happens, you may develop flu-like symptoms as well as a distinctive rash. “With this disease, the person will notice a rash and the rash is very significant,” explained Dey. “It can be very red and sometimes almost represents a skin infection.”
The rash tends to expand over a few days, up to eight inches and it is called the “bullseye rash”. There are no symptoms of pain with this rash, but there may be some itching.
Preventing Tick Bites
Personal protection is crucial when protecting yourself from ticks. Dey gave the following tips on how to prevent a tick from making you their feeding host:
- Avoid grassy areas that attract ticks.
- Wear light colored clothes so the ticks stand out.
- Wear long-sleeve shirts, pants and tuck the pants into the socks.
- Walk on a path when on hikes or in wooded areas.
- Wear a tick repellent lotion.
Keep these prevention tips in mind the next time you’re enjoying the great outdoors.