Ticks are small arachnids. To complete their complex life cycles ticks require blood meals. Normally a tick bite is harmless but it may often cause an allergic reaction or serious illness. When you’re having a tick bite, extracting the tick as soon as possible is really necessary.
They are drawn to people and their four-legged pets and can switch between the two quickly. Whether you’ve been outside some time, at some point you’ve probably seen ticks.
Most tick bites are painless and only cause mild signs and symptoms on the skin, such as redness, swelling, or a sore. But certain ticks do spread disease-causing bacteria, including Lyme disease and spotted fever from Rocky Mountain.
What are tick bite symptoms and signs?
Unfortunately, the tick bite is typically painless for identification purposes and remains so long after the tick finishes the blood meal and falls off the skin. Later, the bite site may develop
- Redness or red spot, and
- Rarely, in some persons localized extreme pain as in the joints (some mild tick bites).
- Many people may be sensitive or allergic to tick bites and produce saliva secretions
- Rash near bite,
- Shortness of breath,
- Numbness, or
- Paralysis (for example, neck stiffness).
Many people with tick bites, however, show no symptoms and even people don’t recall being bitten.
Some immediate symptoms that seldom or uncommonly occur during or immediately after a tick bite can initially be flu-like and include:
- Shortness of breath,
- Weakness and/or achiness,
- Bite site and/or lymph nodes swell,
- Weakness or paralysis,
- Confusion, or
Individuals with these symptoms should be seen immediately by a doctor.
When Should I Call My Doctor?
Call your doctor if:
- The tick has actually been on the skin for more than 24 hours.
- A part of the tick is left in the skin.
- Rash of any kind (especially red-ringed bull’s eye rash or red dots on wrists and ankles) develops.
- The area of the bite appears infected (increasing heat, swelling, pain, or oozing pus).
- Symptoms such as fever, headache, exhaustion, stiff neck or back, muscle aches, or joint aches develop.
Causes of Tick Bites
- The tick for wood (dog tick) is the size of an apple seed. It can double or triple in size, after feeding. This will also pass on spotted fever on the Rocky Mountain or tick fever in Colorado.
- The tick on deer is the size of a poppy seed. After a feeding, it can triple in size. Sometimes, it can pass on Lyme disease.
Various types of ticks bite humans. In the U.S. ticks appear to be more popular on both coasts and in the Midwest.
Ticks live in trees, grass, and shrubs. From April through September, they’re more active as they usually prefer warmer months. Anyone who spends time outdoors is at risk for a tick bite, particularly in wooded or grassy areas.
The risk of contracting a tick-borne illness depends on where an individual lives in the United States.
96 percent of people with Lyme disease developed it in one of 14 states, mainly in the Midwestern East or Upper states.
How can you prevent infections from tick bites?
Here are some tips to prevent tick bites:
• Use long sleeve shirt and pants when walking in the woods or grassy areas where ticks are common.
• Walk in the center of trails.
• Use tick repellent that’s at least 20 percent DEET.
• Treat clothing and gear with 0.5 percent permethrin
• Take a shower or bath within two hours of being outdoors.
• Check skin closely after being in tick-prone areas, especially under arms, behind ears, between legs, behind knees, and in hair.
It usually takes more than 24 hours of feeding to infect a human with a tick carrying illness. So, the sooner a tick can be identified and removed, the better.