With summer in full swing, chances are that you'll be spending more time outside hiking, having picnics, or even camping. But despite its beauty, nature also brings with it some less desirable occupants — like ticks.
Ticks are a type of arachnid that cause a variety of illnesses such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and tularemia. They are typically found in wooded or grassy areas and thrive in warmer weather. While they don't jump or fly, they do climb tall grasses and bushes, which gives them access to potential hosts (i.e. humans or animals).
If you do find a tick on your body, you can take the following steps to remove it or visit your nearest CityMD location.
Generally speaking, the longer a tick stays on your body, the bigger it gets, so a tick the size of a poppy seed means that it's less likely to have been on your body for long. While it takes roughly 36 hours for the tick to transmit disease, try to remove it as quickly as possible after you notice it.
Nail polish, petroleum jelly, bathing, swimming, or lit matches won't make the tick detach from your skin. In some cases, trying these things can put you at greater risk of disease.
Using fine-tipped tweezers (remember to sterilize them first), grab onto the head of the tick, avoiding its stomach area as much as possible. The organisms that cause tick-borne diseases are in the tick's stomach cavity, so squeezing it can push them into the person's bloodstream.
Avoid twisting or tilting the tweezers — you don't want parts of the tick to break off and stay lodged in your skin. If parts of the tick remain in your body, try to remove as much of it as you can.
Once you have removed the tick, clean the bite area, your hands, and tweezers with rubbing alcohol.
Avoid crushing the tick with your fingers. Instead, put it in alcohol, flush it down the toilet, or put it in a sealed container and throw it into the trash.
While a single dose of doxycycline within 36 hours may lower your risk of disease after a tick bite, talk to your healthcare provider before taking anything. In addition, for the next month or so, be on the lookout for the following symptoms:
- Muscle pain
- Joint swelling and pain
Don't let a fear of ticks stop you from enjoying the outdoors this summer. But if you happen to be in an area that is known for ticks, be sure to regularly check your body and clothing (and your pet, if they are with you) for any ticks that might have hopped aboard for the ride.
Dr. D’Amore is a Board Certified Emergency Medicine physician who was raised in Queens, N.Y. He initially went to Baruch College/CUNY to become a finance mogul but heard the call of medicine and graduated magna cum laude in Biology and among other honors, was a member of Psi Chi, the National Honor Society for psychology.
Dr. D’Amore then went to Albert Einstein College of Medicine and completed a medical intern year as well as a year in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Mount Sinai Medical Center before completing a residency in Emergency Medicine at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Medical Center.
Dr. D’Amore has worked in community ER’s in the tri-state area but still enjoyed any opportunity to teach at academic ER’s as well. He relishes the opportunity and reward of sharing medical knowledge and experience. He is a fellow of the American College of Emergency Medicine and considers himself both a frustrated college professor as well as a frustrated professional food critic. Thankfully that allows him to teach medicine passionately to clinicians who also receive great food recommendations to boot.