What is a tick?

Ticks are parasitic arachnids that attach themselves to a host and have the ability to transmit diseases. They are external parasites and survive by feeding on the blood of other animals. They have oval-like bodies and four pairs of legs.

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Are they dangerous?

Not all ticks are dangerous, but you should remain cautious and vigilant in removing them from your body because they have the potential to carry diseases. Summer time is one of the most hazardous times of the year for contracting Lyme disease because the black legged tick, which transmits Lyme disease, is in the nymph stage. This means the tick is less than two millimeters in size and can remain relatively undetected.

For more information about Lyme disease, visit: Lyme Disease: MedlinePlus

Avoiding Ticks

Tick exposure can occur year-round, but they are most active in the summer, warm months.

According to the CDC, before you go outdoors you should:

  1. Know where to expect ticks. They live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas.
  2. Use EPA-registered insect repellent containing DEET, permethrin, etc.
  3. Avoid contact by walking in the center of trails and limiting off-trail exploration.

After you come indoors you should:

  1. Immediately check your body. Conduct a full body check.
    1. Under the arms
    2. In and around the ears
    3. Behind the knees
    4. In and around the hair
    5. Between the legs
  2. Check clothing for ticks. Putting your clothes in the dryer on high heat after being in a high-risk area can help to kill any ticks on your clothing.
  3. Shower soon after being outdoors. This is shown to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease.

Check out this article for more information on how to protect yourself from ticks this summer: 4 Reasons Poppyseed-Sized Ticks Are More Dangerous Than Adult Ones (healthline.com)

 

Oh no! There’s a tick on me…what do I do?

If you find a tick on you that is not embedded or engorged, it has most likely not been there for 24 hours or longer. There will be minimal risk for tick-borne disease transmission and you should remove the tick from your body/skin immediately. If the tick is embedded:

  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to skin’s surface as possible.
  2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick.
  3. After removal, clean the bite area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.

clipart style image showing the proper removal of a tick using a pair of tweezers

If you find an engorged tick and/or believe the tick has been embedded for more than 24 hours, call your doctor. Watch for any symptoms that develop, which may include: fevers, chills, joint/muscle pain, headaches, or neck stiffness. Another common sign for Lyme disease is an expanding red rash often called bullseye rash.

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