As summer approaches, many of us are making plans to spend more time out of doors. While spending time outside, it is important to be mindful of the potential for tick bites.
Ticks can find hosts by detecting breath and body odors, or sensing body heat, moisture, and vibrations. When a tick finds a host, depending on its stage of life, it can take from 10 minutes to 2 hours to find a feeding spot. There is usually no immediate pain when a person is bit by a tick and the tick will usually remain unnoticeable until after the feeding. After this point, a person may notice itching, burning, or redness at the bite location. If the tick is carrying an illness (e.g., Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever), those symptoms may not develop until days or weeks later.
To prevent tick bites:
- Use tick repellant.
- Avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
- Walk in the center of trails.
- Check clothing and skin frequently.
To remove an attached tick:
- Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible.
- Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
- After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
- Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention website is a great resource and has useful information regarding Avoiding Ticks, Tick Removal, and Tick Life Cycle and Hosts.