Do you know that while going on a trip, you can have tick bites?
Tick bites are often harmless and do not cause any symptoms.
However, ticks can cause allergic reactions and certain ticks can also pass diseases to you and your pets when they bite.
Moreover, these diseases can be dangerous or even life-threatening when you do not treat them promptly.
It is important to note that ticks are common in the United States. However, they are also present outdoors.
You can find them in the grass, trees, shrubs, and leaf piles.
Furthermore, they are attracted to people and their four-legged pets, and can also move between the two with ease.
When you spend time outdoors, you will likely encounter ticks at some point.
Keep on reading to learn more on how you can identify ticks and tick bites, along with the symptoms of tick-borne illness and what you can do.
Ticks and Tick Bites
Ticks are small, blood-sucking bugs and they can range in size from as small as a pin’s head to as large as a pencil eraser.
They have eight legs and they are arachnids.
This means that they are related to spiders.
The different kinds of ticks can range in colors from the shade brown to reddish-brown and black.
Moreover, as they take in more blood, ticks grow.
At their largest, ticks can even grow about the size of a marble.
After a tick feeds on its hosts for a number of days, it swells up and can even turn a greenish-blue color.
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Where do Ticks Bite People?
Ticks prefer warm, moist areas of your body.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, once a tick gets on your body, it is likely to migrate to the following areas:
- back of your knees
- inside your belly button
- around the waist
- inside and around your ears
However, it is important to note that ticks do not always migrate.
If you have been in a situation where you might have gotten a tick bite, be sure to check your entire body.
When a tick reaches a desirable spot, it bites into your skin and begins drawing blood.
Unlike most other bugs that bite, ticks often remain attached to your body after they bite you.
Moreover, if a tick bites you, you are most likely to know it because you will find a tick on your skin.
You will probably feel the tick biting you as the bite is occurring.
After a period of up to 10 days of drawing blood, an engorged tick will detach itself and fall off from your body.
it is important to contact your doctor as soon as you can, after a tick bite and even if you do not have symptoms.
For instance, in areas of the country where Lyme Disease is common, doctors may recommend you receive treatment for Lyme disease after a tick bite even before symptoms start.
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Identifying a Tick Bite
One of the important things to note is that ticks can remain attached to the skin for up to 10 days after they first bite.
Moreover, they get bigger and easier as time goes on.
Ticks often bite once, instead of clusters or lines.
Most harmless tick bites can cause no physical signs or symptoms.
Some can cause a red or discolored bump to appear that looks similar to a mosquito bite.
Furthermore, a Lyme disease bullseye rash can also appear anywhere from 3 to 30 days after a tick bites you.
You may also see more than just one rash,
The rash even may get larger over the course of several days, after reaching 12 days in width.
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Symptoms of a Tick Bite
Let’s discuss the symptoms of the tick bite as follows:
Signs and Symptoms of an Allergic reaction to a Tock Bite
It is important to note that tick bites are often harmless and may produce no symptoms.
However, if you are allergic to tick bites, you may experience:
Symptoms of Tick-Borne Diseases
Ticks can pass the potentially severe diseases to human hosts.
Most signs and symptoms of tick-porne diseases will begin within a few days to a few weeks after a tick bite.
Some diseases that you can get a tick bite are:
Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever, tularemia, and ehrlichiosis.
Moreover, some of the potential symptoms of tick-borne diseases are:
Red or discolored spot or rash near the bite site, fever, chills, full-body rash, neck stiffness, headache, nausea, weakness, muscle pain, or arching, joint pain, and swollen lymph nodes.
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Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
People who suspect they may have Rocky Moutain spotted fever should seek medical advice and treatment as soon as they suspect it.
Some of the symptoms of Rocky Moutain spotted fever are:
- a sudden high fever around 102 or 103°F (38 to 39°C)
- abdominal pain
- muscle aches
Make sure to seek medical attention as soon as possible after a tick bite.
Moreover, your doctor can explain your risks, what complications to look for, and when to follow up.
Additionally, they will also complete a thorough medical history, exam, and testing.
This can help to determine whether your symptoms are a result of a tick-borne disease or not.
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One of the most important things you can do when you find a tick is to remove it.
This can help stave off a tick-borne illness.
However, do not remove it if you have an allergic reaction, as this may release more of the allergen and cause a worsening reaction.
Make sure to clean the area thoroughly with an antibacterial cleaner or ointment after removing the tick.
Moreover, your doctor may also wish to send the tick to the laboratory to analyze what type it is and to determine if it is carrying any pathogens.
It is important to place the tick into a lidded jar or a sealed ziplock bag and bring it with you to the appointment with your doctor.
Treatment will depend on whether you are experiencing an allergic reaction to a tick bite, or have a tick-borne disease.
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Removing a Tick
You can remove a tick yourself with a tick removal tool or with a set of fine-tipped tweezers.
However, make sure your hands and whatever tool you are using are clean.
Follow these steps to remove a tick:
Grasp the tick as close as you can to the surface of your skin.
Pull straight up and away from your skin, applying steady pressure, Try not to bend or twist the tick.
Check the bite to see if you left any of the tick’s head or mouthparts in the bite, if so, remove them carefully.
Clean the bite site with water and also apply an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, or iodine.
After you remove the tick, submerge it in the rubbing alcohol to make sure it is dead.
Place it in a sealed container.
Saving the tick provides evidence of a tick bite for the doctor. it may be a good idea to label the container with the date and location of the bite.
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Contacting a Doctor
It is important to contact your doctor or seek medical advice as soon as possible after a tick bites you.
A doctor can help determine if any treatment is necessary, based on the type of tick that bites you.
Different parts of the country have different risks when it comes to diseases from tick bites.
However, if you live in an urban area without many ticks and get bitten elsewhere, your usual doctor may not readily identify the tick.
If that is the case and you are uneasy, seek another opinion about the treatment.
Let your doctor know if you were bitten in a geographical location known for severe tick-borne diseases like the Western or Northeastern United States.
Moreover, you should also let your doctor know if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms after your tick bite:
- aching muscles
- erythema multiforme rashes
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Preventing Tick Bites
One of the best ways to avoid tick-borne illness is to prevent tick bites.
Some of the following prevention tips are:
Wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants when walking in the woods or grassy areas where ticks are common.
Talk in the center of trails, and use tick repellant that is at least 20% DEET.
Treat clothing and gear with 0.5% permethrin.
Moreover, take a shower o bath within 2 hours of being outdoors.
Check your skin closely after being in tick-borne areas, especially under your arms, behind ears, between legs, behind knees, and in your hair.
It usually takes more than 24 hours of feeding for a person to get a tick-borne disease.
Therefore, the sooner you can identify and remove a tick, the better.
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Tick bites are often symptom-free and harmless, however, ticks can carry harmful diseases like Lyme disease. If you notice a bullseye-shaped rash, fever, chills, and body aches, it is crucial that you ask your doctor about the next steps.
You can prevent tick bites by using 20% DEET or 0.5% permethrin, wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants while in tick-prone areas, and staying away from the edges of any walking trails where ticks hide.