See Pictures Below- With a pair of fine point tweezers or a tick removal tool, grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull outward with a slow even force, pulling in the opposite direction to how the tick entered the skin.
DO NOT JERK OR TWIST THE TICK. This might tear the head and mouth parts from the tick's body and can push the tick's fluid directly into your skin or blood stream.
DO NOT USE YOUR FINGERS TO REMOVE THE TICK. Squeezing the tick could cause it to release the contents of its body into the wound. Remember, you can contract Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever simply by handling ticks and allowing their excretions to be absorbed through your skin. The time it takes to transmit tick borne diseases varies.
DO NOT ATTEMPT TO REMOVE THE TICK WITH CHEMICALS (such as nail polish or remover, liquid soap, kerosene, oils, etc) OR BY HEATING IT WITH A MATCH. This can annoy or even kill the tick before it disengages its mouthparts. It can also cause the tick to regurgitate its contents into the wound, increasing the likelihood of transmitting a number of diseases.
WASH THE TICK ATTACHMENT SITE. Once the tick is removed, use warm soapy water and/or rubbing alcohol to clean the spot where the tick was attached. You can also apply an antibiotic ointment to help protect the bite site from additional contamination and secondary infections.
SAVE THE TICK. If you want to send it for testing place it in a small sealed ziplock bag with a very slightly damp cotton ball (not wet). Keep it in the refrigerator until you are ready to ship it. Remember- testing a tick does not guarantee the organisms it harbors will be detected, or if any or all of the infectious organisms were passed to you.
NEVER wait for the tick test results to come back before being treated. Remember, the earlier the treatment the better! Treatment Guidelines are located here. You can print out these one-page guidelines and take them with you to your local doctor. (Often health care professionals need this updated information, a bit of prompting and documentation to support treatment.)
WHAT KIND OF TICK BIT ME? Please remember it doesn't matter what kind of tick bit you if you are trying to find out what diseases it may carry. All ticks are able to harbor multiple diseases and pass infectious organisms on to its host. For your own educational purposes, here is an informative site with clear pictures of various ticks to help you identify them. Click Here
OK, I WAS BITTEN- NOW WHAT?
DO NOT WAIT FOR A RASH OR SYMPTOMS TO APPEAR TO TAKE ACTION NOW. Less than 30% of people with Lyme report a rash, and less than 10% of children nationwide have one. Do NOT wait for the disease to spread throughout your body and for symptoms to appear before being treated. In highly endemic areas treating the tick bite as soon as possible may help reduce the incidence of contracting Lyme and other tick borne diseases. (See recommendations for treatment here.)
SAY NO, NO, NO TO THE OLD "ONE DOSE OF ANTIBIOTICS" TREATMENT. The "one dose of Doxycycline after a tick bite" theory, which some health care professionals once believed was curative, is not an effective means of preventing Lyme or other tick borne diseases. In fact, that old theory was disproven by several later studies. Remember- pathogens found in ticks can travel through the blood stream or skin and some can spread throughout your body in a manner of minutes. In other words, once you are bitten you have a good chance of contracting one or more tick borne diseases.
IF ROCKY MOUNTAIN SPOTTED FEVER, ANAPLASMOSIS OR EHRLICHIOSIS IS SUSPECTED TREAT WITH A FULL COURSE OF ANTIBIOTICS IMMEDIATELY! Do not wait for symptoms, test results or for a rash to appear. All major health care institutions recommend treating first and asking questions later if Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), Ehrlichiosis or Anaplasmosis is even suspected. RMSF is not limited to the mountainous areas in the west as its name would imply. RMSF and many newly discovered spotted fevers are found in most states in the USA, if not all.
ARE YOU THIS KIND OF TICK, OR THAT KIND OF TICK? Some medical professionals may still want to see the tick that bit you before prescribing antibiotic treatment. You need to know that it doesn't matter what kind (species) of tick bit you or how long it was attached, or its percentage of engorgement to determine if you were potentially exposed to disease causing organisms. All species of ticks can carry one or more known disease organisms. In fact, a 2014 study by Michael Cook reports the transmission times are not what has been theorized in the past- they are much shorter.
Remember- Lyme disease isn't "only" in deer ticks and RMSF isn't "only" in lone star ticks, as some may still believe. A tick bite is a tick bite, is a tick bite! Don't take chances! Treat It!
EARLY TREATMENT IS YOUR BEST DEFENSE!
HOW TO TREAT A TICK BITE. Please see the official guidelines used world wide that address treating tick bites, found HERE. You may want to print out these one-page treatment recommendations and take them with you to the doctor's office. The more you and your doctors know the better chance you have to kick Lyme disease before it kicks you!
Lyme, Bartonella, Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Anaplasmosis, Mycoplasma and STARI are some of the many diseases ticks can carry and pass to humans and pets. Doxycycline, prescribed for an adequate length of time, is currently the preferred treatment (barring any contra-indicators, such as young age, allergy, etc.). Doxycycline will address most of the common bacterial infections carried by ticks. Babesiosis is not caused by a bacteria, so it is one of the exceptions.
NO ONE LIKES TO TAKE MEDICINE!
TAKE ALL OF YOUR PRESCRIBED MEDICATIONS. When taking doxycycline (and other antibiotics) be sure to complete the full course prescribed even if you are not feeling sick or feel better in a few days. You can ask your doctor or pharmacist if you can take your medication with food rather than on an empty stomach to avoid possible gastrointestinal symptoms. To help prevent a yeast infection and maintain good digestive health, taking a good quality pro-biotic during and after treatment has been reported to be beneficial.
CAUTIONARY ADVISE WHILE ON ANTIBIOTICS. Avoid sun exposure while being treated. Sunburns can occur very quickly while taking antibiotics and may continue for an undetermined time after you've stopped taking them. Read all literature that comes with your prescribed medications. If you have any questions contact your pharmacist or doctor. You may want to avoid using calcium products (milk, cheese, supplements including Tums, Rolaids, etc) when taking your antibiotics as they have been reported to slightly decrease the ability of the antibiotic to be absorbed.
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS. New scientific evidence indicates Lyme disease may be sexually transmitted. Spirochetes that cause Lyme disease have been found in semen, the uterus, vaginal secretions, breast milk, blood, organs, brain, skin, muscles, tendons, eyes and most other body fluids and tissues.
Please Note- Antibiotics may reduce the effectiveness of some birth control methods, so you may want to consider using additional precautions. Please check with your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions. Remember- the spirochetes that cause Lyme disease are similar to the ones that cause syphilis.
DO I HAVE TO HAVE A BLOOD TEST?
TESTING IS NOT RECOMMENDED WITHIN THE FIRST 30 DAYS OF A TICK BITE. Save your money! Tests for Lyme and some other tick borne diseases are known to not produce positive results immediately following a tick bite (unless you've had prior exposure).
It can take 4-6 weeks, for example, for someone to build up detectable levels of antibodies to Lyme disease, rendering early test results totally useless. Additionally, in other stages of infection the tests have been determined to be difficult to interpret, unreliable, highly inaccurate (74.9% missed) and they have been shown to produce many false-negatives.
A Johns Hopkins study (2005) indicated approximately 75% of people with Lyme disease tested negative using the standard recommended testing methods. Also, many things can affect Lyme test results. Remember- a negative test does NOT rule out a Lyme infection and there is no such thing as having a "borderline" or "slightly" positive test (that is like being a little bit pregnant). Positive is positive, unless proven otherwise.
Get It Right! Treat The Bite!
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