Ticks are so small and their initial bites do not hurt, so it can be hard to tell if you have tick. It is important to complete a tick check on a regular basis. The chances of catching a tick-borne disease increase the longer the tick is embedded in you. It is important to act quickly when you suspect that you may have a tick on you.
Check for Ticks
It is important to perform a thorough check after you are in an area where there is an increased chance of getting ticks. First, you should check your clothes as soon as you get home, since the ticks may be crawling on you looking for a place to attach. You will need to check around your waist, at the back of your knees, underneath your arms, and between your legs. You should have someone check your hairline for you.
Removing a Tick
If you find a tick, you will need to remove it as quickly as possible. It is important to remove the entire tick, because if you leave part of it embedded it can cause an infection that is different from the other tick-borne illnesses. The easiest method is to use a tick key, which you lay flat against your skin and then pull it across the area where the tick is, it naturally lifts the tick out. You can find these at outdoor supply stores. If you do not have a tick key, you will need to follow these steps.
- Grasp the tick firmly with a pair of tweezers. Be sure to grab as much of the body as possible.
- Pull back firmly and slowly, so that the tick detaches. Be sure not to twist or to pull up as this can leave the head embedded in your skin.
- Clean the area with rubbing alcohol.
- Put the tick on a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol on it and seal it in a zipper bag.
There are old wife’s tales that instruct you to remove the tick by putting petroleum jelly or gasoline on the tick to make it detach. This may make the tick regurgitate into you which can increase the chances of infection. There is also the advice to burn the tick with the end of a match, which can cause the same issue. If you cannot remove the tick on your own, you should see a doctor.
Watch for Signs of Tick-Borne Illness
Many tick-borne illnesses will start with a fever accompanied by aches and pains. Some will then cause you to develop a rash. If you have any of these symptoms, you should seek medical treatment and let the doctor know that you were recently bitten by a tick. There are blood tests that doctor can do to confirm if you have the disease and most require treatment with antibiotics to clear them.