Lyme Disease and the Management of Tick Bites
Ticks are commonly present throughout our area including in your own yard. They enjoy wooded areas where leaves are on the ground, and “edge habitats” – areas of transition between manicured lawns and untamed woods. Stone walls, wood piles, areas of long grass and ground cover areas are also favorites of ticks due to the fact that these places also harbor mice, which are effective hosts for the parasites.
Depending on the species, ticks can be active either at dawn and dusk or during midday. All enjoy the heat of summer. Use an insect repellent such as DEET or Permethrin, to help keep them off of you. Make sure to examine yourself and your family for ticks after you have been outside. Also be sure to examine your pets to make sure they haven’t picked up any of these pests.
Why Be So Careful about Avoiding Tick Bites?
A bite by a tick isn’t just uncomfortable and annoying, it can also spread Lyme disease along with other tick-borne illnesses. Lyme disease starts out with rash, achiness, headaches, and tiredness, but can progress to worse symptoms if left untreated. The other diseases are more rare.
What Do You Do If You Are Bitten by a Tick
One of the keys to avoiding this disease, other than not getting bitten by ticks at all, is the proper management of tick bites. The longer the tick is embedded in your skin the greater your chance get one of the diseases. Therefore, removing it is the first part of bite management.
Removing the Tick
Grasp the tick right behind its head and gently pull it out. If a small part remains behind it is best to leave it as your body will take care of it. This small part does not have the ability to transmit an infection.
Since Lyme disease can result in persistent, treatment-resistant symptoms if it is allowed to get fully settled in, it’s a good idea to go to the doctor right away to make sure you haven’t been infected. Some doctors will prescribe pre-emptive antibiotics as a matter of course, but others will want to test the tick to see if it was a carrier before writing a prescription. Due to the latter possibility, you should save the tick in a bag or other sealed container and take it to the office with you.
As long as the potential for disease is spotted and treatment is started fast enough, antibiotics will quickly take effect. Therefore, you should never skimp on seeking treatment quickly, even if the bite seems minor.
At Hudson Physicians, we hope you have a safe and wonderful summer of camping, hiking, and hanging out in your own backyard!