Check For Ticks
By Layne Gianakos.
Warm weather is here and as we all spend more time outside, so do ticks! Here’s some tips on avoiding the diseases they carry:
Ticks are most active after rain and prefer warm, damp conditions and places. These are also the places they’ll prefer on your body! Make sure you check your hairline, underarms, groin, ankles, and behind the knees.
Check for ticks OFTEN even if you haven’t been in an area where they are common. They can attach to other people and animals and be carried indoors. According to the Lyme Disease Organization, Lyme can be transmitted in the first 24 hours after a tick bite. There are not definite guidelines on how soon Lyme can be transmitted and it may be as little as 6 hours, although 36 hours is the normal window.
Removing a tick on your body is a delicate process. You can buy tick removal tools to help. If you remove a tick with your fingernails or tweezers, be careful not to squeeze as this can force the tick to vomit inside the bite, spreading infection.
The CDC recommends pulling straight out since twisting can cause the head to break off. Do not compress the tick’s body, do not irritate or injure it, and make sure the mouth parts are cleanly removed from your skin.
Once removed, call your medical provider for advice. If you receive a single dose of doxycycline within 72 hours after removing a tick, you can prevent infection. Do not attempt to treat yourself with antibiotics you may have at home, since these may not be appropriate and can have side effects.
If possible, save the tick and bring this into the office. You can place it in a Ziploc bag and put it in the freezer.
The only way to stay safe is to check regularly for ticks, there are some prevention methods you can use when venturing outdoors:
Know where you’re likely to find ticks (coastal areas, grassy fields, right after it rains)
– Tuck your socks in and wear long pants and sleeves
– Wear darker clothing (studies have shown ticks are more attracted to lighter clothing. Keep in mind it will be harder to identify ticks on your clothing with darker colors).
– Check your whole body with special attention paid to your hairline (including behind your ears), underarms, groin, ankles, and behind the knees. Have someone else check for you, if possible.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Tick Removal. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/removing_a_tick.html
Cook M. J. (2014). Lyme borreliosis: a review of data on transmission time after tick attachment. International journal of general medicine, 8, 1–8. doi:10.2147/IJGM.S73791
Keystone, J. (2016). What’s bugging you? Part three: Ticks. Retrieved from https://www.uhn.ca/corporate/News/Pages/what_is_bugging_you_part_three_ticks.aspx
Louise Stjernberg & Johan Berglund (2005) Detecting ticks on light versus dark clothing, Scandinavian Journal of Infectious Diseases, 37:5, 361-364, DOI: 10.1080/00365540410021216
Mervine, P. (2013). Hard science on lyme: Ticks can transmit infection the first day. Retrieved from https://www.lymedisease.org/hard-science-on-lyme-ticks-can-transmit-infection-the-first-day/
Süss J, Klaus C, Gerstengarbe FW, Werner PC (2008). What makes ticks tick? Climate change, ticks, and tick-borne diseases. J Travel Med. 15 (1): 39–45. doi:10.1111/j.1708-8305.2007.00176.x. PMID 18217868