Depending on where in the country you live, ticks can be a major problem, both for humans and their pets. According to the Mayo Clinic, most tick bites are “painless and cause only minor signs and symptoms, such as redness, swelling, or a sore on the skin. But some ticks transmit bacteria that cause illnesses, including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.” Because of this, you’ll want to remove a tick as soon as you see it and treat it afterward to prevent an infection from happening.
It’s fairly simple to remove a tick and can usually be done at home. If the area becomes red, swollen, or painful, or if you can’t remove the tick entirely, you should make an appointment to see a doctor immediately.
You’ll want to remove a tick quickly and carefully. Using fine-tipped tweezers, grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible. Gently pull the tick up and out using a slow and steady motion. Don’t twist or squeeze the tick as it can get lodged into the skin further or break off underneath the skin. Experts don’t recommend using petroleum jelly, fingernail polish, or a hot match to remove a tick, as this can cause complications or injury.
Once the tick is removed, store it in an air-tight container in the freezer. If you develop symptoms later on, you’ll want to give the tick to your doctor for further testing.
Before treating the bite site, wash your hands and area thoroughly using warm water and soap. Next, you can use rubbing alcohol or an iodine scrub by placing a small amount on a cotton pad and then onto the site itself. You can also use hydrogen peroxide for tick bites because it can destroy Lyme disease bacteria.
If the area becomes red and itchy, you can use Benadryl or calamine lotion on the area to help provide relief. You can also use a local anesthetic spray that contains benzocaine to reduce any pain at the site or use a product like After Bite to help manage symptoms.
It’s always best to avoid areas where ticks tend to live if you are able. Ticks live outdoors, usually in wooded, grassy, or bushy areas, so if you are camping, hiking, or frolicking through a field, it’s best to wear protective clothing (tall socks, long-sleeved shirts, etc.) so ticks can’t find their way onto your skin.
While tick bites can occur year-round depending on where you live, you’re most likely to encounter them during warmer weather, from April to September, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Ticks are no dummies; when they bite you, their saliva acts as a painkiller, numbing the area so you typically don’t feel it until it burrows under the skin. When you come inside, it’s always best to check your entire body for ticks, especially behind your ears and in your cracks and crevices, where they like to hide.
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