With increased outdoor summer activities come an increased risk of tick bites. Ticks are small insects that hide in grass, bushes and other plants that latch onto whatever warm-blooded creature happens to come by. Tick bites are associated with a number of serious diseases, including Lyme diseases, Rocky Mountain spotted ever and tularemia. If you find a tick on yourself or your children, you must remove it carefully and monitor the person for symptoms of these diseases.
Identifying A Tick
Ticks can be as large as a pencil eraser or difficult to see. Different areas of the country may have different species of ticks. Ticks can also differ whether they are male or female, juvenile or adult, and fed or unfed. They are generally rounded with 6 or 8 legs, depending on their age.
Removing a Tick
They tend to migrate to warm, moist areas of the body, such as the armpits, groin or scalp. They attach themselves firmly to the skin to feed on the blood of their host. To remove a tick from the skin, grasp it close to the head with a pair of tweezers and pull straight outward in a slow, steady motion. Do not twist as you pull it out. Do not try to lubricate or smother it with oil, Vaseline or other compound. Do not try to burn it with a match or lighter. Then, clean the area with soap and water. If you cannot remove the entire tick, get medical help to complete the task. Put the tick into a small jar in case you must identify it in case symptoms develop.
Monitoring for Symptoms
After you have removed the tick, watch for symptoms of tick-borne illness. Symptoms may include headache, fever, a rash at the site of the bite, muscle aches, joint pain similar to the flu, weakness, swollen lymph glands or stiff neck. Other symptoms to watch for include tingling, numbness, incoordination or spreading paralysis. If you or your child has any of these symptoms, consult a doctor immediately for treatment.
Prevention Tick Bites
Spray your clothing with insect repellent before spending time outdoors. Wear long sleeves and pants to avoid exposing bare skin. Check your shirttail tucked into your pants. Pull your sock up over the bottom of your pants legs to prevent a tick from entering. If you wear light-colored clothing, you will be able to see a tick on your more easily. Check your body carefully for ticks after being outdoors.