Tick Bites and Lyme Disease
June 10, 2019
There are many different types of ticks in the US yet the risk for developing an infection, such as Lyme Disease, is quite low. People get can get Lyme disease after being bitten by a deer tick, but the tick must stay attached to the skin for at least a day and a half to be able to transmit the infection. A tick that is tiny, easy to remove, or just walking on the skin cannot spread the infection.
Deer ticks are tiny, about the size of a pencil tip or poppy seed if they are not engorged (have not fed). Engorged ticks are bigger, round, and full of blood (may look dark red or purple).
Using a pair of tweezers, grab the tick as close to the skin surface as possible. Pull outward gently but firmly. Do not jerk or twist. Do not use a match, cigarette, nail polish, Vaseline, liquid soap, or kerosene for removal. Do not squeeze, crush, or puncture the tick since it can contain infection. Wash hands and skin with soap and water. If any parts remain in the skin, leave them alone. Your body will expel them.
What to do after removal:
Observe the tick for size, color, and engorgement. Try to determine when the tick bite occurred.
When to see a medical professional:
You should see a doctor if you cannot remove the tick; if you think it has been attached for more than a day and a half; if you have a red rash around the bite that sometimes gets larger and looks like a bull’s eye; if you develop fever, fatigue, aches and pains, headache or stiff neck, weakness or numbness.
What to expect at the doctor’s office:
The medical provider will ask you what the tick looked like, how long it was attached, and if you are having any symptoms of Lyme. The provider will examine the bite and then determine if treatment or testing is necessary.