Tick Bite Treatment

What You Need to Know

What to do if you have been bitten by a tick. Ticks are common throughout Delmarva, and since many of us spend time outdoors among the Shore’s wealth of nature, tick bites happen. What should you do if you have been bitten by a tick? It is important to take certain steps to prevent the potential transmission of diseases. Here are some things you can do if you have been bitten by a tick:

Remove the tick as soon as possible. To do this, use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Gently pull the tick straight out without twisting or jerking it. Avoid using heat, petroleum jelly, or other methods to try to remove the tick, as these can actually increase the risk of disease transmission.

If possible, save the tick for identification. Place the tick in a clean container and store it in the refrigerator. This can help your healthcare provider determine if the tick was carrying any diseases, and can help guide treatment if necessary. A whopping 20 to 30 percent of deer ticks in Maryland carry Lyme disease, but not all types of ticks are carriers.

Clean the bite area. Once the tick has been removed, clean the bite area with soap and water or an alcohol-based disinfectant. This will help to prevent infection.

Monitor the bite site for signs of infection. The signature red bulls-eye rash of Lyme disease occurs in about 70 to 80 percent of cases, so if you see it appear, call a doctor. However, you could be among those who never develop a rash, so keep an eye out for other symptoms like headache, fever and fatigue. Other diseases can result from tick bites as well, and it can take some time for symptoms to emerge. Mark the bite date on the calendar so you won’t forget to mention it to your doctor if you feel unwell later, even if you don’t have any symptoms right away.

Take preventative measures to avoid tick bites in the future. To reduce your risk of being bitten by a tick, try to avoid areas with tall grass or dense vegetation. If you are hiking or camping in tick-infested areas, wear long pants and sleeves, and use an insect repellent that contains DEET or permethrin. Additionally, check yourself, your children, and your pets for ticks after spending time outdoors.

Make sure to have a family doctor you can turn to when something like a tick bite arises. Visit tidalhealth.org/find-a-doctor if you need a provider.

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