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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, that particular tick-borne illness is actually very rare in our area. There are other, much more prevalent, illnesses to avoid 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 typically more successful than repellant on skin. Wearing repellant on shoes, socks, and pants is crucial because the ticks always get on your lower legs or feet first. Contrary to popular belief, ticks do not drop down from trees. Ticks will usually be around bushy non cleared areas.

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.


Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within 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 and examine both gear and pets because 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, applying 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, 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 you most likely acquired the tick.


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

    Clarissa McCullar Bio

    Clarissa and her husband Mike grew up farming in Arkansas along the Mississippi River Delta. They moved to Knoxville to attend UTK and never looked back after seeing the beautiful Smoky Mountains. Clarissa enjoys spending time with her children, family, and friends. She truly loves people and taking care of them at Summit Oak Ridge.