How To Monitor A Tick Bite
Stage : Small Oval Rashes Or A Reddish Lump
When a tick that causes Lyme disease bites you, it infects you with bacteria. Without treatment, the bacteria can spread to other areas of your body. Stage 2 begins when the bacteria spread to other parts of your body.
During this stage, you may see small, oval rashes on your skin. Some people develop a bluish-red lump.
Where you see these signs: Because the infection has spread, small rashes can appear anywhere on your skin, except for your palms and soles. Most rashes appear on the arms, legs, and face.
Some people develop a lump, which your doctor may refer to as borrelial lymphocytoma. In children, this lump tends to appear on an earlobe. Adults often see a raised growth form around a nipple.
Borrelial lymphocytoma on a childs ear
This can appear in stage 2 of Lyme disease.
What you may see on your skin: The rashes that appear during stage 2 differ from the rash that can appear in stage 1. In stage 2, the rashes stay the same size rather than grow larger.
When the rashes, lump, and symptoms begin: About 30 to 45 days after the tick bites you, you may notice rashes or a lump. These can also take longer to appear, sometimes six months or more.
Some people develop symptoms, which make them feel ill, including:
Shortness of breath and dizzy spells
Bells palsy, which causes one half of the face to droop
Heart problems, such as chest pains or an irregular heartbeat
If The Tick Is Still Attached
Finding a tick on your skin can be quite difficult, Ostfeld says especially during the spring and early summer months when ticks are in their nymph stage, and so are roughly the size of a poppy seed. You have to closely examine your skin and then ask someone to scan the places you cant see in order to spot them. While adult ticks are a little larger, theyre still difficult to identify.
Running your hands over those parts of your body ticks tend to bite is another way to find them before theyve dropped off.
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What Blacklegged Ticks Look Like
Blacklegged ticks are small and hard to see. They attach themselves to humans and animals and feed on their blood. They can range in size depending on how long they have been feeding.
You can find out if its a blacklegged tick by:
- calling your local public health unit or checking their website
- submitting a photo of the tick to etick.ca
Adult female blacklegged tick at various stages of feeding. Photo: Government of Canada
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What Should You Do If You Find A Tick
Don’t touch the tick with your bare hand.
Use a pair of tweezers to remove the tick. Grab the tick firmly by its mouth or head as close to your skin as possible.
Pull up slowly and steadily without twisting until it lets go. Don’t squeeze the tick, and don’t use petroleum jelly, solvents, knives, or a lit match to kill the tick.
Save the tick. Place it in a plastic container or bag so it can be tested for disease, if needed.
Wash the bite area well with soap and water and put an antiseptic lotion or cream on the site.
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What Does A Tick Bite Look Like
If a person or an animal has been bitten by a tick, one of the key signs of a tick bite is actually seeing the tick itself still stuck to the skin. Ticks require a blood meal from a human or animal host in order to grow. While ticks can embed their mouth parts in a host to feed, sometimes, a tick can be dislodged without a person even knowing they’d been bitten in the first place.
If you’ve recently been bitten by a tick, it can initially look like most other tiny insect bites. Tick bites may have either a small black dot in the middle or a hardened bump at the site of the bite itself.
One of the signs that you may have been bitten by a tick that can cause Lyme disease occurs within three days of having been bitten, taking the form of a dime-sized red spot. This spot expands outward within 36 hours, forming a bulls-eye pattern. This is due to an allergic reaction to tick saliva and may indicate that a person has been exposed to the organism that causes Lyme disease. It’s important to seek immediate care from a medical professional if you see a bulls-eye pattern on the skin that has expanded in radius over the course of several days.
When Should You See A Doctor For Your Tick Bite
Keep tabs on the bite area after a tick has bitten you. If the area of the bite becomes red or swollen for days or you develop flu-like symptoms, this may be a sign of tick-related disease such as Lyme disease, Dr. Rodney says. You should call your doctor or visit the nearest emergency room. And, if you develop signs of an infection, youll also want to call your doctor for help.
Ticks can be tiny and they can be easily missed, so its important to do thorough body check after youve spent time outdoors. Be sure to look carefully under your arms, around your ears, inside your belly button, behind your knees, between your legs, and in your hair. Checking yourself, kids, and pets can go a long way in minimizing contact with these critters, says Dill.
And as always, stock up on the best tick repellents before your next outdoor adventure.
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How Do You Know If Youll Get Lyme Disease From A Tick Bite
Lyme disease is an infection caused by a a species of bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. This bacteria is most commonly transmitted by the bite of a tick of the Ixodes genus. People who spend a lot of time outdoors in areas where ticks with this bacterium are present, are considered to be more at risk of Lyme disease, especially during the summer season.
If youre outdoors and youre bitten by a tick, one of the hallmark symptoms showing you may have been infected with Borrelia is whats known as a bullseye rash around the tick bite.
By bullseye, we mean the rash looks like a circle with some concentric rings expanding out from the insect bite. It may also just look like a red rash but it usually does look more brightly colored red at the outer edges. Take a look here to see some examples.
There is data to suggest only 30-50% of people infected with Borrelia get the bullseye rash so its important to note that absence of this rash does not mean you are safe from infection.
A red rash can be caused by other bites
Because some people are particularly sensitive to insect bites, at times people could be bitten by an insect and a standard rash gets confused with a rash signifying Lyme disease. So at this stage its very difficult to tell if the person whos been bitten will develop Lyme disease.
The acute stage of Lyme disease
If youre in an area prone to Lyme disease
How Do I Remove A Tick
It’s important to remove a tick as soon as possible. Follow these steps:
Note: Never use petroleum jelly or a hot match to kill and remove a tick. These methods don’t get the tick off the skin, and can make it burrow deeper and release more saliva .
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What To Do If You Have A Blacklegged Tick Bite
Remove the tick by pulling it directly out with fine-tipped tweezers. Lift upward with slow and even pressure. Dont twist when removing it. Dont crush it or put soap or other substances on it. Dont apply heat to it.
Place the tick in a resealable container. See if you can identify what kind of a tick it is.
Immediately after removing the tick, wash your skin well with soap and water or with rubbing alcohol.
Not all ticks carry Lyme. The Lyme bacteria is transmitted only by blacklegged ticks in their nymph or adult stage.
Save the tick to show your doctor. The doctor will want to determine if its a blacklegged tick and if theres evidence of feeding. Ticks enlarge as they feed. Your risk of getting Lyme from an infected tick increases with the length of time that the tick fed on your blood.
Pull the tick out with tweezers and save it in a resealable container for identification.
Lyme Disease Signs And Symptoms
Most symptoms of Lyme disease in humans usually appear between three and 30 days after a bite from an infected blacklegged tick.
You should contact your local public health unit or speak to a health care professional right away if you have been somewhere that ticks might live and experience any of the following symptoms:
- a bulls-eye rash (a red patch on the skin that is usually round or oval and more than 5 cm that spreads outwards and is getting bigger
- a bruise-like rash
- another type of unusual rash
- muscle aches and joint pains
- spasms, numbness or tingling
- facial paralysis
If not treated, Lyme disease can make you feel tired and weak and, if it gets really bad, it can even harm your heart, nerves, liver and joints. Symptoms from untreated Lyme disease can last years and include recurring arthritis and neurological problems, numbness, paralysis and, in very rare cases, death.
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When Should I Worry About A Tick Bite
Make sure you see a doctor if you notice the following: The bite area shows some signs of infection including swelling, pain, warmth, or oozing pus. Development of symptoms like headache, fever, stiff neck or back, tiredness, or muscle or joint aches. Part of the tick remains in the skin after removal.
How Do Ticks Give Cats Lyme Disease
Some ticks, including the deer tick, carry the bacteria known as Borrelia burgdorferi, which causes Lyme disease and can affect humans and dogs but rarely cats. Ticks affect cats by biting them and spreading the parasite through their saliva, but certain ticks at different stages of their life cycle are more likely to transmit Lyme disease to your cat.
The parasite will start transmitting the disease through saliva 24 to 48 hours after the tick is attached. Symptoms usually appear 25 months after the tick bites, but most cats dont present any symptoms.
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How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Getting A Tick Bite
If you are planning an outdoor activity, especially those in a heavily wooded area, it is important to follow a few simple precautions to protect yourself from tick bites.
- Wear long-sleeved, light-colored clothing, with tightly woven fabric. This gives ticks less area to target and allows you to see ticks on your clothing. Make sure you tuck your pants into your socks, shoes, or boots so that ticks cannot easily get under your pant legs.
- When traveling through the woods or grassy fields, stay near the center of the trails. At home, make sure that you mow your lawn regularly.
- Use insect repellents with 20% or more ofDEET on exposedskin and clothing. Your clothescan also be treated with permethrin. You can purchase this product at most sporting goods stores. Always read product labels to be sure you use the product properly.
- When returning from the outdoors, check for ticks. They may attach anywhere. Check your hair, body folds and inside your belly button, or behind your knees, along your beltline, between your legs, in or behind ears, underarms and your back.
- Be sure to check your pets, too. You should discuss using tick prevention products for your pets with your veterinarian.
- Check your clothes and gear for ticks and wash these items immediately. Placing them in a hot clothes dryer for 15 minutes will kill the ticks.
- You should take a shower after you have been on hikes or working in your yard.
When To Seek Medical Help
If you develop a rash after possibly being exposed to ticks, you can draw around the rash with a pen and take a photo. This way, you can check if the rash expands.
- The rash is 5 cm in diameter or larger
- The rash lasts more than 48 hours
- You believe you have one or more other symptoms of Lyme disease within days, weeks or months after engaging in outdoor activities where you may be exposed to ticks
If you have noted a bite, provide the information you noted concerning the bite:
- The part of the body that was bitten
- The date and the place you were when you were bitten
If you consult a doctor, bring the tick, if possible, in a closed container such as a pill container.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Untreated Lyme Disease
Seek medical attention if you observe any of these symptoms and have had a tick bite, live in an area known for Lyme disease, or have recently traveled to an area where Lyme disease occurs.
Untreated Lyme disease can produce a wide range of symptoms, depending on the stage of infection. These include fever, rash, facial paralysis, and arthritis.
The appearance of the erythema migrans rash can vary widely.
- Fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes may occur in the absence of rash
- Erythema migrans rash :
- Occurs in approximately 70 to 80 percent of infected persons
- Begins at the site of a tick bite after a delay of 3 to 30 days
- Expands gradually over several days reaching up to 12 inches or more across
- May feel warm to the touch but is rarely itchy or painful
- Sometimes clears as it enlarges, resulting in a target or bulls-eye appearance
- May appear on any area of the body
- Does not always appear as a classic erythema migrans rash
- Severe headaches and neck stiffness
- Additional EM rashes on other areas of the body
- Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly the knees and other large joints.
- Intermittent pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones
- Heart palpitations or an irregular heart beat
- Episodes of dizziness or shortness of breath
- Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
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How Can Ticks Be Removed From My Skin
You should never attempt to remove ticks using lit matches, alcohol, or petroleum jelly. These methods may cause the tick to release the pathogen that causes Colorado tick fever.
The safest way to remove a tick from your skin is to use fine-tipped tweezers. You can remove the tick by doing the following:
- Wear rubber or latex gloves if you have some. If you dont have gloves, place a paper towel or tissue over your fingers.
- Grab the tick with the tweezers as close to your skin as possible and pull up in a steady motion. Using a twisting or jerking motion may cause the tick to break. If this happens, it will be very difficult to remove the rest of the body. Try not to squeeze the ticks body.
- Wash your hands and the bite mark with soap and water.
Put the tick in a plastic bag in your freezer, making note of the date. If you become ill, the tick can help your doctor make a diagnosis more easily.
Colorado tick fever rarely causes complications. In some cases, however, the disease can lead to:
- encephalitis, which is an inflammation of the brain tissue
- meningitis, which is an inflammation of the membranes in the brain and spinal cord
- hemorrhagic fever, which damages the blood vessels as well as various organs
Hospitalization may be required if complications occur.
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Heres How To Identify A Tick After A Tick Bite:
- After removing the tick, place it on a white piece of paper or clear tape, then take a picture of the front and back of the tick. DO NOT let it crawl away.
- Place the tick in a small plastic bag with a green leaf, damp cotton ball or moist piece of tissue. DO NOT place it in alcohol. Label the bag with your name, date, site of bite and how long the tick was attached.
- Use one of the following links to identify the tick.
- or you can download the TickTracker app on your smart phone.