Tick Bites (cont.)
Check Your Symptoms
Most ticks don't carry diseases, and most tick bites don't cause serious health problems. The sooner ticks are removed, the less likely they are to spread disease.
Some ticks are so small that it is hard to see them. This makes it hard to tell whether you have removed the tick's head. If you do not see any obvious parts of the tick's head in the bite site, assume you have removed the entire tick, but watch for signs of a skin infection.
- Use fine-tipped tweezers to remove a tick. If you don't have tweezers, put on gloves or cover your hands with tissue paper, then use your fingers. Do not handle the tick with bare hands.
- Grab the tick as close to its mouth (the part that is stuck in your skin) as you can.
- The body of the tick will be above your skin. Do not grab the tick around its swollen belly. You might push infected fluid from the tick into your body if you squeeze it.
- Pull the tick straight out until its mouth lets go of your skin. Do not twist the tick. This may break off the tick's body and leave the head in your skin.
- Do not try to smother a tick that is attached to your skin with petroleum jelly, nail polish, gasoline, or rubbing alcohol. This may increase your risk of infection.
- Do not try to burn the tick while it is attached to your skin.
- Put the tick in a dry jar or ziplock bag and save it in the freezer for later identification if necessary.
- Wash the area of the tick bite with a lot of warm water and soap. A mild dishwashing soap, such as Ivory, works well.
- If a bite becomes irritated, apply an antibiotic ointment, such as bacitracin or polymyxin B sulfate, and cover it with an adhesive bandage. The ointment will keep the bite from sticking to the bandage. Note: Stop using the ointment if the skin under the bandage begins to itch or a rash develops. The ointment may be causing a skin reaction.
- After you remove the tick, wash your hands really well with soap and water.
When you return home from areas where ticks might live, carefully examine your skin and scalp for ticks. Check your pets, too.
Home treatment to help relieve pain and itching
- Apply an ice pack to your bite for 15 to 20 minutes once an hour for the first 6 hours. When you are not using ice, keep a cool, wet cloth on the bite for up to 6 hours.
- Try a nonprescription medicine for the relief of itching, redness, and swelling. Be sure to follow the nonprescription medicine precautions.
- An antihistamine medicine, such as Benadryl or Chlor-Trimeton, may help relieve itching, redness, and swelling. Don't give antihistamines to your child unless you've checked with the doctor first.
- A spray of local anesthetic containing benzocaine, such as Solarcaine, may help relieve pain. If your skin reacts to the spray, stop using it.
- Calamine lotion applied to the skin may help relieve itching.
- After the first 6 hours, if there is no swelling, try putting a warm washcloth on the bite for comfort.
Medicine you can buy without a prescription
| Try a nonprescription medicine to help treat your fever or pain:|
Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.
| Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:|
- Carefully read and follow all directions on the medicine bottle and box.
- Do not take more than the recommended dose.
- Do not take a medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to it in the past.
- If you have been told to avoid a medicine, call your doctor before you take it.
- If you are or could be pregnant, do not take any medicine other than acetaminophen unless your doctor has told you to.
- Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than age 20 unless your doctor tells you to.
Symptoms to watch for during home treatment
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment: