TICK BITES

Ticks are small spider like animals (arachnids) that bite to fasten themselves onto the skin and feed on blood. Ticks live in the fur and feathers of many birds and animals.

Most ticks don’t carry diseases, and most tick bites don’t cause serious health problems. But it is important to remove a tick as soon as you find it.

Tick bites are usually harmless and may produce no symptoms. However, some people may have an allergic reaction to a tick bite. This reaction may be mild, with a few annoying symptoms. In rare cases, a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) may occur.

Anaphylaxis symptoms may include:

  • Sudden raised, red areas (hives) all over your body
  • Swelling of the throat, mouth, lips, or tongue
  • Trouble breathing
  • Passing out (losing consciousness) or you may feel very lightheaded or suddenly feel weak, confused, or restless

Bring the person immediately to the emergency room of a hospital if he or she develops these symptoms.

Tick bites may also get infected. See your doctor if you develop the following symptoms:

  • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness around the bite
  • Red streaks leading from the bite
  • Pus draining from the bite
  • Fever

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You develop a new rash.
  • You have joint pain.
  • You are very tired.
  • You have flu-like symptoms.
  • You have symptoms for more than 1 week.

It is important to remove a tick as soon as you find it. Removing the tick’s body helps you avoid diseases the tick may pass on during feeding. Removing the tick’s head helps prevent an infection in the skin where it bit you.

  • Use fine-tipped tweezers to remove a tick. If you don’t have tweezers, put on gloves or cover your hands with tissue paper, then use your fingers. Do not handle the tick with bare hands.
  • Do not try to smother a tick that is attached to your skin with petroleum jelly, nail polish, gasoline, or rubbing alcohol. This may increase your risk of infection.
  • Do not try to burn the tick while it is attached to your skin.
  • Put the tick in a dry jar or ziplock bag and save it in the freezer for later identification if necessary.
  • Wash the area of the tick bite with a lot of warm water and soap. A mild dishwashing soap, such as Ivory, works well.
  • If a bite becomes irritated, apply an antibiotic ointment, such as bacitracin or polymyxin B sulfate, and cover it with an adhesive bandage. The ointment will keep the bite from sticking to the bandage. Note: Stop using the ointment if the skin under the bandage begins to itch or a rash develops. The ointment may be causing a skin reaction.

After you remove the tick, wash your hands really well with soap and water.

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