Tick safety 101: how to check for ticks
Summer is a time to enjoy outdoor activities with family and friends. But along with hiking, camping, and picnics in the park comes the threat of ticks.
We’ve put together a guide that will help you check for ticks and protect you and your loved ones from these tiny insects.
What does a tick look like?
Ticks are small, flat, and oval-shaped creatures that can vary in size depending on their life stage and species. Typically, they have eight legs and a tough, reddish-brown, or black exoskeleton. As they feed on blood, ticks can swell and change in appearance, resembling a tiny raisin or grape when engorged.
Remember, even the smallest ticks can pose a risk, so it's important to check for them regularly. In the next section, we'll explore ways to find ticks.
Let's dive into ways to find ticks. We’ll also explore some friendly tips and techniques to help you stay tick-free.
- Choose the right attire. Before heading outdoors, consider wearing long-sleeved shirts, pants tucked into socks, and closed-toe shoes. This creates a physical barrier that makes it harder for ticks to reach your skin.
- Perform regular tick checks. After spending time outdoors, conduct a thorough tick check on yourself, your family, and furry friends. Start by examining your clothes, paying close attention to cuffs, collars, and any areas where ticks could easily hide.
- Give yourself a full-body inspection. Stand in front of a mirror and carefully inspect your entire body. Don't forget to check your scalp, behind your ears, and between your toes. Ticks love warm and moist areas, so give those places extra attention.
- Get a helping hand. Enlist a friend or family member to assist you in checking hard-to-see areas, such as your back and the back of your legs. Sometimes, a fresh pair of eyes can spot a tick you might have missed.
- Take a shower. Showering within two hours of coming indoors can help wash off unattached ticks. Make sure to thoroughly inspect your body again during the shower and feel for any unusual bumps or lumps.
- Check your gear and belongings. Ticks can hitch a ride on your outdoor gear, backpacks, or blankets. Before bringing these items inside, give them a good shake and inspect them carefully. Wash and dry your clothes on high heat to eliminate any hidden ticks.
Early detection is key when it comes to tick bite safety. If you find a tick attached to your skin, don't panic. Follow proper removal techniques, like using fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick close to the skin's surface and gently pulling upward with steady pressure.
Prevention is crucial in avoiding tick bites, but it's important to recognize the symptoms that may arise if you get bitten.
Not all tick bites lead to illness, but if you experience any of the following symptoms, seek medical attention at your local CityMD urgent care.
- Redness and irritation. Tick bites can cause local redness, inflammation, and itching around the bite site. But don't worry, it's just your body's natural reaction to the tick's saliva.
- Rash. Certain tick-borne illnesses, like Lyme disease, can trigger a distinct rash called erythema migrans. It often looks like a red bullseye expanding from the tick bite area. Keep in mind that not all tick bite rashes follow this pattern.
- Flu-like symptoms. Some tick-borne diseases can cause flu-like symptoms such as fever, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, and joint pain.
- Swollen lymph nodes. Tick bites can sometimes cause nearby lymph nodes to swell and become tender.
- Neurological symptoms. Though rare, certain tick-borne diseases can affect the nervous system, resulting in severe headaches, dizziness, stiff neck, facial paralysis, and numbness or tingling in your limbs.
Everyone reacts differently, so stay vigilant. If you notice any unusual changes in your health after a tick bite, consult a healthcare professional. CityMD is here to provide guidance and treatment.
At CityMD, we're here to support you and your family's healthcare needs. Our friendly team is ready to provide guidance, diagnosis, and treatment if you have any concerns about tick bites or any other health matters.
As you embrace the joys of summer, remember to stay informed, take preventive measures, and enjoy your outdoor experiences to the fullest. And if you encounter any tick-related concerns, know that your local CityMD is just a visit or call away.
We’re ready to care for you.
Visit any CityMD urgent care location in your community today for an evaluation with one of our expert providers.