With the warm weather, you’ll likely be spending more time outdoors. Whether it’s picnics, hiking, camping, or just a stroll outside, you’ll need to be cautious about protecting yourself from bug bites, especially the diseases that can be transmitted from these bites.
Now that tick numbers are at their peak, these bugs may hitch onto you when you’re outside playing, hiking, and enjoying the day. Your loving pet may also unknowingly pick a tick up and deliver it to you.
How can we prevent these ticks in the first place?
First, wear long sleeves and long pants when walking in the woods or grassy areas. Also, use mosquito/tick repellent that contains at least 20% DEET or treat clothing with 0.5% permethrin. (We offer both at Gatti Pharmacy) Lastly, be sure to check skin closely after being in tick-prone areas, especially armpits, behind ears, between legs, behind knees, and in hair.
Now let’s dive a little deeper into tick bites.
To start off, what are ticks? Ticks are small bugs that suck blood. These brown to black insects range in size from that of a pinhead to as large as a pencil eraser. Also belonging to the arachnid family, they are similar to spiders. Even worse, after sucking your blood, these creepy crawlers grow, up to the size of a marble.
Once a tick finds a nice place to bite on your skin - usually a warm, moist area - it’ll stick its head in and start sucking your blood. However, a tick doesn’t leave after its done; it sticks to your skin and can stay there for up to 10 days sipping your blood until it finally falls off with a thanksgiving meal’s worth of blood in its belly.
What is the concern with tick bites?
Some ticks can carry harmful germs that cause Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, and others. Besides a potential allergic reaction of pain, swelling, or rash to the bite, symptoms related to the potential diseases which may occur within several days to a few weeks can include fever, nausea, a bull's-eye rash and red dots on the ankles and wrists. Call your health care provider immediately if you notice these signs of an infection.
How do I remove a tick?
Ticks should be removed as soon as possible. First, use a tick removal device (we supply at Gatti Pharmacy!) or tweezers to firmly grasp the tick as close as you can to your skin’s surface (in other words - the tick’s head). Pull straight up and away from the skin, and try not to bend or twist. If part of the tick does stay in the skin, do not worry – this will eventually come out on its own. If the mouth-parts do break off, try to remove them if possible. It’s a good idea to save the tick in a jar or zip-locked bag in case you want to have it identified later on (for a disease). Be sure to wash your hands and the site of the bite with soap and water, and also swab the bite site with rubbing alcohol to make sure it’s dead.
NOTE: Do NOT use petroleum jelly or a hot match to kill and remove a tick. These don't get the tick off the skin, and can cause it to burrow deeper and release more saliva (which increases the chances of disease transmission).
Photo by Matic Kozinc on Unsplash
The Gatti Team
Information, tips and more from the Gatti Pharmacists and staff.