Aaaah! I Found a Tick – Now What?
Aaaah! I Found a Tick – Now What?
What do I do if I find a tick on me?
If you find a tick on you, remove it as soon as possible. If it is still crawling, a good way is to use tape to remove it. Or, just try to get it to crawl onto something else. Any time you remove a tick, you should wash the skin and your hands thoroughly with soap and water. They say that you can suffocate the tick with tape or flush it down the toilet. I once did an experiment of placing the tick in a completely sealed jar and it took over a week for it to finally die.
How to Remove a Tick:
The best and most effective way to remove a tick that has been attached is using fine pointed tweezers, grasping it from the side where it meets the skin, and gently pulling in the opposite direction from which it embedded.” You should also wipe the area with alcohol before and after you remove the tick.
What if the head is still left embedded?
“Do not be alarmed if the tick’s mouthparts remain in the skin. Once the mouthparts are removed from the rest of the tick, it can no longer transmit the Lyme disease bacteria. If you accidentally crush the tick, clean your skin with soap and warm water or alcohol. Don’t use petroleum jelly, a hot match, nail polish, or other products to remove a tick.” ~ TERC, Tick Encounter Resource Center
You will never find a tick completely embedded, the way the tick is structured, the body will end up outside of your skin.
How long does the tick have to be on you to become infected?
You will find that a lot of the articles that you read state that the transmission of Lyme Disease will take 24 to 36 hours; I have found that it is possible to become infected if the tick is attached less than 24 hours. In my case, it was much less than 24 hours; more like 12 hours.
Daniel A. Kinderlehrer, M.D. states:
“While the longer the tick is attached, the higher the risk of transmission, it is possible to get Lyme disease even if the tick is attached for less than 24 hours. The salivary juices of the tick, which contain anticoagulants, anesthetics, and immune suppressors, also contain microbes that can be injected at the time of attachment. Transmission of bacteria by ticks attached less than 24 hours has been well documented in animals, and a recent paper last year documented that this can occur in humans as well.” (ILADS.org)
You will also find that many of the sources of information state that Lyme Disease is transmitted by an infected deer tick. However, if you have read the CDC information on Lyme Disease from time to time, the types of ticks include more than just deer ticks. At one time, the brown dog tick was included on that list. Recently, I was told it no longer was listed. I myself, was infected by a brown dog tick. Quite frankly, ticks feed on blood, there is probably several different diseases they carry.
Should I save the Tick?
Most doctors that are very knowledgeable in Lyme Disease and the other tick-borne diseases state that it is a very good idea to save the tick and get it tested for Lyme and other pathogens. “If the tick is attached, you will definitely want to send the tick to a laboratory to be tested for Lyme” [and other co-infections]. Most of the time an online search will help you find where you can send the tick for testing. A few known places are Imugen, Inc., Igenix, UMass Extension Tick Assessment, Clongen Labs, New Jersey Laboratories, and Analytical Services, Inc., just to name a few.
Can I get infected in my backyard?
Yes, although ticks are known to not travel far probably at most 2 meters, they can be carried on animals and clothing.
How long does it take to have a tick get as big as a size of a pea or corn kernel?
These are probably engorged female ticks—“most likely attached for about 3 days to look like a corn kernel.” You may want to take your dog or cat to the Vet and take necessary measures.
“The length of time a tick stays attached depends on the tick species, tick life stage and the host immunity. It also depends on whether you do a daily tick check. Generally if undisturbed, larvae remain attached and feeding for about 3 days, nymphs for 3-4 days, and adult females for 7-10 days. Deer ticks feed a day or so faster than Lone Star ticks and American dog ticks.”
If you do a search on the Internet, you will see that you look for a rash. In a poll that I personally did, it only showed in about 30% of the cases. LymeDisease.org also did a poll and found very similar results. The symptoms are usually headaches, stiff neck, swollen glands, fatigue, dizziness and migratory pains that come and go. You may also want to watch for night sweats (may indicate Babesia) and anaplasmosis (previously called ehrlichia), “often presenting with fever and lower white blood count, as these can complicate treatment and recovery of Lyme disease.” For a very thorough list of symptoms, you may want to read The Three Stages of Lyme Disease and Symptoms.
When should I go to the doctor?
In my experience, you should go to a doctor immediately or as soon as possible. By the time, you begin to see the symptoms, it has already progressed. Of course, you will find that the testing for Lyme Disease are not very reliable so clinical observations are very important. You may want to read Testing & Forms of Lyme Disease. You will find that more and more researchers and doctors that have been affected by Lyme Disease or are treating patients with Lyme Disease are searching and conducting studies to hopefully achieve better testing.
I would recommend seeing a doctor that looks at the two approaches of treatment as opposed to the one very strict route that is outlined in the CDC guidelines of which most doctors’ use as their treatment plan. That is, a doctor that is affiliated with the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS.org). I am not saying that ALL doctors of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) are close-minded, however, they tend to stick to what is outlined by the IDSA and the CDC. You may want to read What I Wish My PCP Knew.
Now. Do you know what to do if you find a tick on you?
Note: Many times I am asked this question; I realized that I didn’t have a blog covering this. This is a compilation of my research and what I have found through my experience. I am not a doctor and I will never claim to be one.