Encountering Ticks

Insect-borne diseases are getting worse.  Mosquitoes and ticks are expanding their coverage; places where it may not have been a problem in the past are now experiencing problems today and the list of diseases they carry is growing longer.  Since 2004 seven new tick-borne diseases have been discovered in the U.S.

Take the right precaution in preventing insect bites.  Even then, it may not be bullet proof, but the right steps can significantly eliminate the chances of encountering these bloodsuckers.  Treat your home, there are organic options available.  Insect treatments to the grass and around the garden beds is a great first step and it’s where most people spend majority of their time, at home.  Ticks can be found in many different places, so precaution just doesn’t stop there.

We have a little bit of time to catch ticks before they become an issue.  Ticks, starting from the ground, will move up to find that sweet spot to penetrate your skin.  Once they bite, it takes times for them to completely enter the body.  Every shower, you should be inspecting your body.  A full-length mirror is great for examining your body, but sometimes just feeling all around can be a good detection.

Ticks tend to go to dark, moist places like armpits, the groin, behind the ears, and sometimes on your head, around the hairline.

You still want to do these checks as soon as possible. Some pathogens may take up to 72 hours to pass from tick to human, while others like the new disease in New jersey, the Powassan virus, can be transmitted in a matter of hours. The quicker we find the ticks, the less likely we will become infected.  

Female Deer (Black Legged) Tick

Removing a Tick

There is a right way to remove a tick.  The tick’s head can easily become embedded and separate from the body, if not removed properly.

1. With tweezers, try to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.

2. Pull the tick straight upward. Do not twist or jerk the tick.

3. If the tick breaks apart, try removing the mouth parts with the tweezers. The opening should heal just like any other wound. If redness occurs, contact a doctor.

4. Flush the tick down the toilet.  If the tick penetrated your skin, it may be a good idea to save the tick in a plastic bag, if you were unable to identify the tick. Seek professional advice if you were unable to identify the tick as a pathogen carrier and/or if the whole tick wasn’t successfully removed.

5. Clean the area the tick penetrated.  Use rubbing alcohol, iodine scrub, and/or soap and water. 

6. Effects from the tick bite could take several weeks.  If any symptoms arise, visit a doctor as soon as possible. 

When leaving your home and you are going to be outdoors, use an insect repellant.  Many mosquito repellents will also work on ticks.  Be safe!