It is officially tick season in our area – typically considered to be April to September in most of the south eastern United States. In the past two weeks my son has found two ticks on himself and we have removed countless ticks from the cat (which tells me we need to switch flea/tick medicine).
The first tick we found on the back of my son’s knee (see picture to right). It was so tiny but it had obviously been there a day or so because of the redness around the tick. Usually when we find a tick we just remove it with tweezers, apply anti-biotic cream and a bandage, and observe it for a few days. Unfortunately with this one, the tick was so tiny and so well embedded, I had no choice but to take my son to the doctor and have the doctor remove it and then put him on a round of anti-biotics – just in case.
What Are Ticks?
Ticks are small blood sucking insects – actually classified like spiders – that crawl and attach themselves to animals and humans to feed. They are notorious for transferring diseases from animals to humans and are found in tall grassy or deep forested areas.
How to Prevent Tick Bites
The best ways to prevent tick bites in the first place are to wear long pants and long sleeved clothing when hiking through the woods, wear insect repellent that contains DEET, and always inspect your body – arms, legs, torso – for ticks when coming in from the woods.
What to Do If You Find a Tick
If the tick has not gotten all comfy on your body yet, they can be fairly easy to remove with a pair of tweezers. Make sure you get as close to the tick’s head as possible before pulling it out – you don’t want to leave part of the tick in the skin. Next wash the area with soap, apply an anti-biotic cream and a bandage. Observe the area for signs of redness and if the person affected is not feeling well, go to the doctor and have it checked.
Some people recommend putting the removed tick in a ziploc baggie and saving it in the freezer, just in case the person affected gets ill, so doctor’s can test the tick for Lyme Disease and other diseases. Never try to burn off a tick or smother it in any chemical substance.
If the tick looks to have been embedded for more than 24 hours, the area around the tick bite is red, or the tick is too small to easily remove – GO TO THE DOCTOR’S office right away. This is definitely one situation where you are better off to be safe than sorry! We have had friends get very ill from tick bites – it’s just not worth the risk.
For more information on ticks, the diseases they carry and how to deal with them safely, check out:
- Ticks and Tick Borne Diseases – very informative presentation by the Virginia Department of Health
- Be wary of the bloodsuckers as tick season arrives from Roanoke.com