Tick Bites: Bitten by a Tick? How to Know: Ticks are everywhere these days, and Lyme disease is find in every state except Hawaii.
(1) And for good reason, you’re probably hearing more and more about insects and the infections they spread through their bites.
In 2021, an estimated 476,000 Americans will be diagnosed with Lyme disease, and the number of Lyme disease cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has more than quadrupled since 1990. In tick populations and bite-related infections, ticks are expanding their geographic range.
Despite the prevalence of ticks and their exposure in the news, many people are still in the dark about tick-borne diseases. The CDC reports that a national survey found that 20 percent of people living in areas where Lyme disease is common were unaware of the risks. And these risks are substantial. “Sometimes 20 to 40 percent of blacklegged ticks carry Lyme,” says Richard Ostfeld, Ph.D., an epidemiologist at the Carey Institute of Ecosystem Studies in New York.
The best ways to avoid ticks, how to identify their bites, and what to do about it if a bite is detecte.
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Ticks don’t fly or jump, but they can climb on you if you get close enough.
Ticks are not flyers or jumpers.
(2) They crawl—and poor ones at that, says Dr. Ostfeld. “They don’t move fast at all,” he says.
To climb onto their bodies, ticks like to climb low plants, trees, logs, or other objects close to the ground. From there, they grasp the object with their hind legs while reaching with their front legs in an act researchers call “coasting.”
As you brush past, the searching tick latches onto your shoes or pants or skin and then works its way upward until it burrows its mouthparts into your flesh, Ostfeld says. Buries it. Don’t look for a safe, inconspicuous place to sink. “They like places where the skin is soft and where they can hide,” he says, citing the back of the knees, armpits, back of the neck and back as favorite spots.
Once attached to your skin, a tick will stay there for several days, dragging itself through your bloodstream, before slowly shedding itself. Ticks must feed on a host at each stage of their life to survive.
How do I know if I’ve been bitten by a tick?
Tick bites can be difficult to detect. Unlike mosquito and other insect bites, tick bites do not cause itching or immediate skin irritation.
“Every blood-sucking arthropod and insect injects saliva into the wound,” explains Jonathan Day, PhD, professor emeritus of medical entomology at the University of Florida. Dr. Day explains that in the case of mosquitoes and some other biting insects, the saliva contains proteins that prevent the bite wound from clotting, which slows blood flow and therefore disrupts feeding. . Is
In addition to preventing your blood from clotting, these proteins also stimulate your immune system’s response. This reaction causes redness, swelling, itching and all the other unpleasant skin irritations that come with bug bites, Day explains.
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But tick bites are different. “Ticks suppress this response with immunosuppressants in their saliva,” Ostfeld explains.
Since you can’t feel a tick bite, you can identify it in one of two ways:
- By tickling or feeling your skin
- By identifying the bite after the tick has fallen
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If the tick is still attach.
Ostfeld says it can be difficult to find ticks on your skin — especially in the spring and early summer months when ticks are in their nymph stage, and about the size of a poppy seed. There is. You have to examine your skin closely – and then have someone scan the areas you can’t see – to find them. Although adult ticks are slightly larger, they are still difficult to identify.
Another way to find ticks before they fall off is to run your hands over the parts of your body that have been bitten. (They will feel like small, unfamiliar, hard nodules on your skin.)
If the tick is dropp.
Ostfeld says that although tick bites don’t itch as quickly as other insect bites, they can cause a red sore or rash on the skin even after the tick is removed.
The size and quality of this lesion can vary greatly from person to person, he says, and so it can be impossible to distinguish a tick bite from a mosquito bite. If the tick that was carrying you wasn’t carrying Lyme disease or another infection, the bite will likely resemble a mosquito bite and go away quickly.
But if you find a tick or an itchy sore on your skin that doesn’t go away within a few days, it could indicate Lyme disease or another type of tick-borne infection.
(3) The same is true of a large, bull’s-eye-shaped skin lesion—which appears as a red rash surrounded by one or more outer rings of inflamed red skin. (3) This bull’s-eye rash is a symptom of Lyme disease.
If you’ve been bitten by a tick, you’ll want to remove it as soon as possible.
If you find a mark on your body, you’ll want to remove it as soon as possible. In general, a tick must be with your body for at least 36 hours to transmit Lyme disease, but other infections can be transmitted in hours or less.
(4) If you can see your primary care doctor or dermatologist, they can remove the tick with the proper tools that are sure to remove the entire tick.
If you are removing yourself, use tweezers or commercially available tick removal tools. “Hold the tick’s mouthparts close to the skin and pull straight out,” says Ostfeld. Don’t worry if you crush the tick or it leaves a dark spot on your skin. “It’s not a big deal. Clean it with alcohol or something to prevent infection,” he says.
(Despite rumors circulating online, killing or mashing the tick during extraction will not cause it to inject more saliva or fluid into your body.)
“The longer they’re in you, the more likely they are to transmit pathogens, so you want to get them out as soon as possible,” Ostfeld adds.
See your doctor after a tick bite if you notice a bull’s-eye rash or other signs of infection
Do the same if you notice a bite—either from a tick you found or from an unknown source—that isn’t acting like a mosquito bite. “If the rash is more than a very localized red spot—like from a mosquito bite—see a doctor,” he says. Likewise, see your doctor if you develop flu-like symptoms, muscle aches, or chills within a week to 10 days of being bitten, all of which could indicate a tick-borne infection.
(5) If a doctor suspects that you have Lyme or another type of infection, he or she will prescribe antibiotics, orally or possibly intravenously, to treat the problem.
How can I avoid getting a tick bite or contracting Lyme?
Ticks can thrive in a variety of environments. “Ticks find in scrub and coastal areas or in low grass and herbaceous vegetation,” says Ostfeld. “But they are essentially creatures of the forest.” Grassy, shrubby and especially heavily wooded areas are prime property for ticks. They say that staying away from these environments is your best defense.
But if you’re going to such areas, wear long pants and shoes, and take them off when you get home. Ostfeld recommends throwing whatever clothes you’re wearing in the dryer — turned to high heat — as soon as possible. Ticks love moisture, and shows to survive washing and drying. But throw your clothes in the dryer without getting them wet, and the dry, hot conditions will kill them.
You can also use DEET and other bug repellants to effectively keep ticks at bay, he says. A chemical called permethrin is available as a spray, and when applied to your boots or hiking pants, it can cause ticks on contact.
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