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  • Tick, Off!
    They’re creepy, crawly, tiny, and…potentially deadly. The best way to prevent tick-borne disease is by avoiding ticks altogether. While doing that is easier said than done, here’s how to keep ticks off of you, what to do if you’re bitten, and symptoms of illness. Read >>
Health and Fitness News

Tick, Off!

How can something so tiny cause such trouble?

They’re creepy, crawly, tiny, and…potentially deadly. While you’re trying to enjoy a hike in the woods, a tick may be searching for its next meal. Most tick bites are harmless, but others cause an allergic reaction or transfer disease. From Colorado tick fever to Lyme disease to Rocky Mountain spotted fever, more than a dozen different diseases are attributed to tick bites—some mild, others severe.

The best way to prevent tick-borne disease is by avoiding ticks altogether. While doing that is easier said than done, here’s how to keep ticks off of you, what to do if you’re bitten, and symptoms of illness.

Tick Prevention

Anytime you’re in the great outdoors, you’re at risk for tick bites. Look around you. See any trees, grass, shrubs, leaf piles, or underbrush? Ticks love to hide out in such places, especially during the spring and summer months. Step near their habitat and they may just climb onto your shoe and crawl up your leg. It’s also common for ticks to attach to your pet and then migrate into your home and onto your body.

Whenever you’re in the woods or grassy areas, wear long pants, long sleeves, socks, and shoes. You may even want to commit a fashion no-no by tucking your pant legs into your socks. If you’re on a trail, walk in the center and avoid brushing up against branches and leaves. Spray your skin with insect repellant that contains at least 20 percent DEET. It’s also helpful to treat your clothing with a repellant made with 0.5 percent permethrin.

After being outdoors, take a shower and closely inspect your entire body for ticks. Parents may need to assist their kids in this process. Remember that ticks tend to hide out in warm places such as behind your ears, under your arms, in your hair, or on your underwear line.

Don’t Panic

In the event you find a tick attached to your skin, it may be unnerving, but don’t panic. Speedy removal is important, but after a tick bites, it takes at least a day for disease to transfer. Using tweezers, grab the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull straight up. Twisting or jerking the tick may leave behind its mouthparts. Note the type of tick, then flush it down the toilet, drown it in alcohol, or put in a sealed plastic bag. Wash your hands and the bite site with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.

What to Watch For

Most people bitten by a tick don’t get any symptoms. Someone allergic to tick bites may develop pain, swelling, burning, blistering, or a rash at the bite site. Unfortunately, some ticks carry disease that transmits through their bite. Symptoms may set in days or weeks after being bit and include redness or rash at the bite, a rash that covers the body, headache, nausea, stiffness in the neck, fever, chills, muscle or joint stiffness or pain, or swollen lymph nodes.

See your doctor after being bitten by a tick to determine whether treatment is necessary. The method of treatment will depend on the kind of tick and the type and severity of your symptoms. Some diseases can be treated at home through antibiotics others may develop serious complications that require hospitalization. The sooner treatment is started, the better the outcome.