As you enjoy the spring and summer months, remember to be aware of some unwelcome companions: ticks.
Ticks are small insect-like creatures that live in grass, bushes and wooded areas. Tick bites often occur at night during the spring and summer months.
“When you’re outside in tick-prone areas, wear light-colored clothing, and tuck your pants into your socks,” said R. Don Cunanan, MD
, a Primary Care Physician for Mon General Hospital Primary Care in Waynesburg, Pa. “The light colors make it easier to spot ticks, particularly the very small deer tick.”
While most tick bites are harmless, some species may carry life-threatening diseases. The deer tick may carry Lyme disease
, and the dog tick may carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSP)
There are several products available that repel or kill ticks.
“It is safe to spray a product with DEET on your skin, but this only acts as a repellent. It doesn’t kill the ticks,” Dr. Cunanan said. “You can spray a product containing permethrin on your shoes and clothing. It kills the ticks, but spraying it on the skin is not recommended.”
Be sure to check yourself, and your pets, for ticks when you come indoors. Ticks attach their bodies onto a human or animal host and prefer hairy areas, such as the scalp, behind the ear, in the armpit and groin, and also between fingers and toes.
“Ticks need to be attached at least 24 hours before they transmit disease,” Dr. Cunanan said. “Protecting yourself and your pets and completing a thorough check when coming inside will help reduce your risk of contracting a tick-transmitted disease.”
What to do if you find a tick:
Do not touch the tick with your bare hand. If you do not have a pair of tweezers, go to your nearest health care facility where the tick can be removed safely.
Use a pair of tweezers to remove the tick. Grab the tick firmly by its mouth or head as close to the skin as possible.
Pull up slowly and steadily without twisting until it lets go. Do not squeeze the tick, and do not use petroleum jelly, solvents, knives or a lit match to kill the tick.
Wash the area of the bite well with soap and water and apply an antiseptic lotion or cream.
Call your doctor if you experience a rash or any of the following flu-like symptoms following a tick bite: Headache, rash, stiff neck, aches and pains in muscles and joints, low-grade fever and chills, fatigue, poor appetite or swollen glands.
For more information regarding ticks, Lyme disease or RMSP, visit healthlibrary.mongeneral.com