First aid: Tick Bites

What are they?

The tick attaches to the skin with its head and pincers, allowing it to feed off the person’s blood.

What are the symptoms?

Most tick bites cause no symptoms other than some irritation at the attachment site. Illnesses caused from ticks are caused by injection of bacteria from the tick into the person.

What can/should be done at home

The Improper Method for Removing a Tick
There are many home remedies, which are based upon trying to get the tick to back out voluntarily. Application of petroleum jelly, fingernail polish, or 70 percent isopropyl alcohol does not work. A hot match to the back end of the tick does not work. These methods for the most part end up being futile, and may end up putting the individual at more risk for infection.

The Proper Method for Removing a Tick
The use of blunt forceps or tweezers is recommended. The tick should be grasped as close to the skin surface as possible and pulled upward with a steady, even pressure. The tick should not be squeezed, crushed, or punctured if possible. After removal of the tick, disinfect the attachment site and wash hands with soap and water. Dispose of the tick in a container of alcohol or flush it down the toilet. Do not burn the tick.

When to get immediate attention

  • If a rash develops after the bite
  • If a fever develops -- even days after the bite
  • If joint pain develops even weeks after the bite
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