If you spend time outdoors, like I do, or you have pets or kids that go outdoors, you need to be aware of ticks. Ticks are small bloodsucking bugs that burrow into your skin (yes, it's disgusting) and many species transmit diseases. You can get Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis
, Rocky Mountain spotted fever
from a tick. Here in New Jersey, Lyme disease
seems to be the most prevalent.
Some ticks are so small that they can be difficult to see. Ironically the small ticks are the ones that you should be most aware of. Ticks may get on you if you walk through areas where they live, such as tall grass, leaf litter or shrubs -- even in your own backyard. They also seem to fall from trees.
Think you've been bit by a tick? First things first. Don't panic. Yes, it's true that Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in the United States, but your risk of developing Lyme disease after being bitten by a tick is very low. If you think you're experiencing the symptoms of Lyme disease, visit a doctor as soon as possible.
To remove a tick:
Locate the tick and remove it as soon as possible because risk of infection increases between 24 to 72 hours after the tick attaches to the skin. You are less likely to get sick from a tick bite if you remove the tick within 24 hours.
1. Soak a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol or use a disposable alcohol wipe. Gently clean the skin around the tick.
2. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull it straight up and out with tweezers or with fingertips protected by a tissue, cloth or rubber gloves. Do not touch the tick with your bare hands.
3. Pull gently until the tick lets go. Do not twist or jerk the tick suddenly because this may break off the tick's head or mouth parts. Do not leave any parts of the tick in the skin.
4. Do not crush or squeeze the tick since its body may be infected with germs. Flush the tick down the toilet.
put a hot match, petroleum jelly or fingernail polish on the tick. This does not cause a tick to come off more easily. Doing this may cause the tick to vomit (throw up) germs into your skin, exactly what you don't want to happen.
After the tick is removed, clean the area of the bite with rubbing alcohol. Wash your hands with soap and water.
To help protect yourself and your family before getting bit:
- Use a chemical repellent with DEET, permethrin or picaridin (Use this to the letter, so you don't get future health problems.
- Make sure kids use product with less than 10% DEET in it.)
- Wear light-colored protective clothing
- Tuck pant legs into socks
- Avoid tick-infested areas
- Check yourself, your children and your pets daily for ticks and carefully remove any ticks you find.