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Summit Medical Group of Oak Ridge

Tis the Season…For Ticks…-By Clarissa McCullar, F.N.P.

Everyone’s first worry is Lyme disease; however, this particular tick borne illness is actually very rare in our area. There are other illnesses that you want to avoid that are related to tick bites.

How do we avoid tick bites? PREVENTION!
Be prepared if you are going to work in the yard, garden or hiking. Dress properly and do tick checks afterward. Repellant on clothing is probably more successful than repellant on skin. Wear repellant on shoes, socks and pants because the ticks always get on your lower legs or feet first. They do not usually drop out of trees. DEET is used on skin; the repellant to use on clothing is called Permethrin. Some companies sell clothing treated with Permethrin that lasts through washing. Parents should apply DEET to children, avoiding hands, eyes and mouth. And while it might look a little silly, tuck your pants into your socks and wear light colored socks so you can better see any of the tiny critters that may crawl on you. Ticks will usually be around bushy non cleared areas.

OH NO I FOUND A TICK ON ME!
Bath or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably with two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that may be crawling on you. Conduct a full body tick check using a mirror, hand-held or full-length, to view all parts of your body. Ticks like skin folds of the body; behind the knees, groin, arm pits, back of neck, tummy folds, etc. Parents should check their children for ticks. Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, and then later attach to a person.
Putting clothing in a dryer on high heat for an hour will kill any remaining ticks. If you find a tick attached to your skin, there’s no need to panic, a set of fine tipped tweezers will remove a tick quite effectively.
How to remove a tick:

  • Use fine tipped tweezers to grab the tick very close to the skin’s surface.
  • Pull upward with even, steady pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick because mouth parts can break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily, leave it alone. You may see your doctor if there are any retained parts.
  • After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
  • Dispose of a live tick by submersing in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, or flushing it down the toilet. DON’T crush the tick with your fingers.

Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible but avoid old household remedies such as nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin.

See your doctor if you develop any of these symptoms within several weeks of a tick bite:

  •  Rash
  •  Fever
  •  Joint pain

Be sure to tell your doctor when the bite occurred, and where most likely you acquired the tick.

Sources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID)
Division of Vector-Borne Diseases (DVBD)