When venturing into the outdoors for a hike, a picnic or other activities, you put yourself at increased risk for a tick bite. Ticks in Minnesota and Wisconsin may be carriers of Lyme disease. Lyme disease is a very harmful condition if left untreated. Taking the precautionary steps to keep yourself safe from tick bites and infection can save you from potentially lifelong health issues. Learn how to notice a tick bite quickly or prevent one altogether and the outdoors can be a much safer place.
How does Lyme disease occur?
Ticks carry a bacteria called Borrelia which can be transmitted into your body if a tick is attached to your skin for more than 24 hours. After the tick latches onto your skin you may notice a red rash that looks like a bull’s eye developing around the bite. If left untreated 50% of patients will develop multiple lesions. The rash around the bite can grow in size for up to 28 days. Symptoms of Lyme disease may include fever, fatigue, muscle soreness, headache, joint pain, nausea and vomiting may follow. Lyme disease can have long-term effects on your health, impacting your heart, joints and nervous system if it is not addressed quickly. The potential dangers of Lyme disease make immediate treatment a necessity.
What do I do if I find a tick?
If a tick has latched onto your skin, try to remove the tick with tweezers as soon as possible. Try to grasp the tick as close to the surface of your skin as possible and remove it with even, steady pressure. Be careful to not jerk or twist the tick off your skin because this may cause the tick’s mouth to remain in your skin. Once the tick is off your body, clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water. Dispose of the tick by submerging it in alcohol, flushing it down the toilet, or placing it in a sealed container. Do not try to crush the tick with your hands. If you cannot remove the tick safely with tweezers seek medical attention immediately.
How can I reduce the chances of getting Lyme disease?
You can reduce the likelihood of getting bitten by a tick by following these tips for your trips to the outdoors:
- Wear protective clothing that covers your entire skin and prevents ticks from crawling under your clothes. For instance, consider tucking your pants into long socks.
- Wear light-colored clothes.
- Use insect repellent that specifically works against ticks.
- Try to avoid densely wooded areas or fields with long grass as much as possible, because these are the spots where ticks are most common.
- Do not put on clothing that has been left on the ground, in case a tick may have climbed into a sleeve or hood.
- After returning indoors, check thoroughly for ticks and inspect your entire body carefully.
- If you can, shower right after being outdoors.
If you experience any of the symptoms of Lyme disease call your physician right away. Your physician will most likely prescribe oral antibiotics but the exact kind of antibiotics will vary based on what your physician observes.
Dermatology Consultants in the Twin Cities offers same day and next day appointments. If you have been bitten by a tick do not hesitate to request an appointment or call 651-209-1600.