HOLLYWOOD, MD — I can never seem to go outside without bringing back a piece a nature with me, like seashells, sand, leaves or bugs. The one kind of nasty souvenir that makes my skin crawl is the tick.
To refresh readers memories, ticks are small, insect-like creatures that live in woods and fields. They attach to you as you pass bushes, plants and grass. And when they get on you, they like to find warm moist places. You know what I’m talking about when I say warm and moist. Places like armpits, the groin area and hair. Ticks attach firmly to your skin and begin to draw blood for their meal. Most people will not notice the painless tick bite.
I can’t sit with my dogs after they’ve had a romp outside because, while they are on medication to prevent the diseases those creatures carry, it doesn’t stop ticks from trying. But I am not medicated like that, and they will crawl onto me from my dogs. Sometimes I can feel ticks crawling on the inside of my shirt if they decide to try their luck with me. I’m itchy just thinking about it.
Ticks range in size form quite large to teeny tiny, and can cause a number of health conditions that should be taken seriously. While most ticks do not carry, some ticks can cause diseases such as Colorado tick fever, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Tularemia.
If a tick is attached to you, follow these steps to remove it:
- Grasp the tick close to its head or mouth with tweezers. You shouldn’t use your bare fingers. If needed, use a tissue or paper towel.
- Pull the tick straight out with a slow and steady motion. Avoid squeezing or crushing the tick. Be careful not to leave the head embedded in the skin.
- Clean the area well with soap and water. Also wash your hands thoroughly.
- Save the tick in a labeled jar. Watch the person who was bitten carefully over the next week or two for indications of Lyme disease.
- If all parts of the tick cannot be removed, get medical help. Bring the tick in the jar to your doctor’s appointment.
Don’t try to burn the tick with a match or other hot object. Not only does the thing you’re holding the tick with get hot, ticks really stink when you burn them. Its like burning hair but worse.
Don’t twist the tick when pulling it out. You’re defeating the purpose of removing the creature from your skin if you twist while pulling.
You shouldn’t try to kill, smother or lubricate the tick with oil, alcohol, Vaseline, or similar material while the tick is still embedded in the skin. It’s not going to work and you could hurt your skin in the process.
When to call the doctors:
Get medical professionals involved if you can’t remove the entire tick. Also call in the days following a tick bite if you develop a rash, Flu-like symptoms like fever and headache, joint pain or redness or swollen lymph nodes.
There was this one time I decided to cuddle with the dogs, and afterwards I was feeling so terrible. I had a mild headache and just hated the world. I started to massage my scalp to try to relieve the pain and i found the nasty thing attached to my head! Too much information?
You should call 911 if you develop chest pain, heart palpitations, an increasingly severe headache which does not respond to medicine, paralysis or trouble breathing.
There are ways to lessen the chances of finding ticks on you after enjoying the outdoors. Make sure to wear long pants and long sleeves when walking in tall grasses or in wooded areas. You should pull your socks over the outside of your pants to prevent ticks from crawling up your leg, and tuck your shirt into your pants. I know, it’s not fashion friendly, but when you are risking catching diseases, I think safe is better than sorry.
You should wear light-colored clothes so that ticks can be spotted easily, as well as spraying your clothes with insect repellent, and checking your clothes and skin often while in the woods.
After you get home from the outdoors, you should remove exposed clothing and inspect your skin if you suspect you may have a tick. Ask a trusted family member to look you over if you are concerned.
Keep this article in mind when you’re outside, and you can continue to have your health when you return outdoors for another adventure.
For more information, check out this link.