Every time we go hiking, or our kids take a bike ride through the green belt, there is a small worry in the backs of our minds. What if there are ticks? Those nasty little insects that bite and latch onto exposed skin can be not only an inconvenience, but a serious health risk for families.
This summer, while families are on-the-go in the great outdoors, Texarkana Emergency Center wants to educate our community about the risks that ticks bring, and how best to prevent them. Join us as we go in-depth about ticks, where they bite, how to remove them, and what to do if a bite shows signs of infection.
Ticks & Their Risks
Ticks are not only painful, they are dangerous. Getting bit by a tick is not like getting bit by a mosquito, which might itch and swell but is likely very harmless. A tick bite can linger and poses the risk of infecting someone with very serious illnesses. According to the CDC, the observed diseases that ticks can spread includes:
- Lyme Disease
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
In addition to these serious diseases, there are many rashes and fevers which are associated with ticks. Since ticks are latching insects, their bites linger as they suck your blood, and the longer a tick is attached to you, the higher your risk of infection gets. This makes it very important that everyone know where to look for ticks after you’ve spent time in the rugged outdoors.
Where Ticks Bite
Ticks can bite anywhere, but since they like to attach themselves, they tend to search for the right places on your body before they bite down. An unattached tick holds little risk, but an attached tick can transmit many diseases. This makes checking for ticks, and specifically attached ticks, very important for you and your family.
After a day out in the park, hiking, or even romping around the backyard, you will want to check yourself and your kids in the mirror for ticks. Look all over, but check the following areas for attached ticks:
- In and around the hair
- In and around ears
- Under the arms, especially arm-pits
- Inside the belly button
- Between the legs, including the inner thigh area
- Back of the knees
Some ticks might try to attach to your clothes and not make it to your skin, and in those cases, you can remove ticks from the clothing then thoroughly wash them. In the event of a tick found on your body, then you will want to safely remove them.
If you’ve never been bit by a tick before, your first react to seeing one might be to swipe at it or grab its round body and pull. These are not good techniques to removing a tick. Trying to grab a tick from its body runs a risk of pushing its stomach contents into your bloodstream, which could increase your chance of infection. Swiping at a tick might break its long puncturing mouth off from its body, leaving part of it attached while the rest is not.
Instead, get a pair of clean tweezers. Grab the tick around its head, the closest you can possibly grip it to where the tick is attached to your skin and pull it straight out.
To help keep your risks of infection down, taking a hot shower right after any tick removals is advised. Showers can also help to wash away any unattached ticks that you did not notice and keep them from attaching themselves. After showering, you can apply antiseptic and a band-aid to the tick bite.
Infected Tick Bites
If you’re been bitten by a tick, you might not have contracted the diseases mentioned earlier. Not every tick carries Lyme Disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. So how to you know if your tick bite is more than just an inconvenience?
Like many bug bites, a tick bite will naturally show signs of redness and irritation. But those symptoms should remain isolated. If you have removed an attached tick, and your symptoms begin to spread, like a rash, then that is a sign of infection. Similarly, if you begin to feel nauseous and feverish, that is also a sign of an infected tick bite. Signs of infection could indicate many different things, depending on which kind of tick bit you and what landscape you were in while you were bitten, no matter what, it is imperative that you seek medical help if there are any signs of infection after being bitten by a tick.
If you or a loved one is bitten by a tick and shows signs of infection, then Texarkana Emergency Center is available 24/7 to help. Our team of experienced physicians and nurses will be able to test for infections and possible secondary diseases with our on-site laboratory. We want to encourage everyone to get out there this summer and explore the great outdoors in a safe manner.
This blog is written by Maggie Berardo, content writer at Nutex Health.
Nutex Health, Inc. supports you and your family’s health. Come visit Texarkana Emergency Center or any one of our concierge-level freestanding facilities for the emergency care you deserve, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.