First Aid Guide for Tick Removal

Most tick bites are harmless and do not require medical treatment. But there are cases where these parasites carry harmful germs that can cause disease, such as Lyme disease

Knowing the symptoms and what to do after a tick bite can reduce the risk of complications.

What are ticks and tick bites

Ticks are small parasites that feed on warm-blooded hosts through tick bites.

A tick bite can cause infections in both humans and animals, with bacteria and viruses causing illness.

Some of these diseases can be serious, such as Lyme disease, tularemia, ehrlichiosis, rocky mountain fever, anaplasmosis, babesiosis and others.

This parasite is known to have a flat body and a long mouth, which can appear wrinkled and leathery.

Some people are allergic to tick bites, which can develop into a condition called tick paralysis.

It is also possible for these parasites to transmit various diseases to humans.

Here is an overview of tick bite symptoms, prevention and what to do if you discover a bite.

Tick bites: symptoms

Sometimes tick bites only cause a red lump in the bitten area, with mild to moderate pain.

However, in some cases, tick bites can cause

  • swelling
  • itching
  • blisters
  • haematomas

In addition, symptoms of an allergic reaction may occur following a tick bite, including

  • swollen throat
  • difficulty breathing
  • collapse or loss of consciousness

First aid guide for tick removal

The longer a tick remains attached to the skin, the more likely it is that infections and other problems will occur.

Therefore, the tick must be removed in its entirety as soon as possible.

Here is a first aid guide for removing a tick:

From the first aid kit, use tweezers to grab the tick near the head or mouth. If tweezers are not available, never use your bare fingers. Instead, use a paper handkerchief or towel when trying to remove the tick.

Pull the tick out in a slow, steady movement. This avoids crushing the tick and leaving the head embedded in the skin.

Clean the area thoroughly with soap and water. Afterwards, wash your hands thoroughly to prevent the tick from remaining on the skin.

Store the tick in a transparent jar if it is safe to do so. Keep an eye out for any Lyme disease symptoms (such as rashes or fever) that may develop in the next week or two.

If the tick removal process is unsuccessful or if you are unable to remove all parts, seek medical attention immediately.

What not to do when removing ticks

There are many misconceptions and folkloric remedies when it comes to tick removal.

In reality, these actions have no proven value and can cause further damage.

For best practice, avoid the following actions:

  • Do not use alternative methods to remove ticks, such as painting with nail polish, coating with petroleum or using a glowing match or alcohol.
  • Do not grasp the tick in the back of the body.
  • Do not twist or tug the tick while removing it.
  • Do not crush the removed tick with your fingers.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend removing a live tick by placing it in alcohol in a sealed container and flushing it down the toilet.

Before removing it, try to identify the tick by noting its size and colour.

Remember all the important details, including whether the tick is attached to the skin, whether it was full of blood and how long it was attached to the skin.

This information will be useful to pass on to paramedics or health workers for further treatment.

Check your body carefully if you find a tick, as there may be others.

When it comes to tick bites, prevention is the best medicine.

6 tips to prevent tick bites

Know where to expect a tick

Most ticks are found in grassy, bushy, wooded areas or even on some animals.

Spending time outdoors walking, camping, gardening or doing other outdoor activities can lead to close contact with these parasites.

To avoid tick bites, avoid bushes, long grass and wooded areas, especially after rain, when their presence is at its highest.

Wear the right clothing

Preferably wear long-sleeved, light-coloured, tightly woven clothing to limit the areas that ticks can strike.

Wearing light-coloured clothing also allows you to immediately see ticks on your clothes.

Take extra precautions and make sure to tuck your trousers into your socks, shoes or boots so that ticks cannot easily get under your clothes.

Use tick repellents

Use an insect repellent containing DEET or picaridin on exposed skin and clothing.

When using these products, always follow the instructions and read the labels to make sure you are using the product correctly.

Do not use products containing OLE or PMD on children under three years of age.

Showering after being outdoors

Showering within two hours of returning home helps reduce the risk of contracting Lyme disease.

This practice also reduces the risk of other tick-borne diseases by washing away unattached ticks.

Creating a tick-free zone in the home

The first principle for creating a tick-free zone is to keep the lawn well maintained and to create a tick barrier between the lawn and taller grasses.

Protecting pets from ticks

You may have avoided tick-infested areas, but your pets have not.

Most ticks can latch onto your pets and move to you.

To prevent this from happening, consider a tick treatment or collar for your pets, especially those that spend most of their time outdoors.

Early removal is key when dealing with a tick bite

The earlier you remove the tick from the skin, the better.

It takes time for the infection to reach the person’s bloodstream, especially in the case of Lyme disease.

The tick must remain attached to the skin for more than 36 hours before it can transmit the infection, so it is best to remove it as soon as possible.

If you or a loved one has been bitten by a tick, you should treat the bite area immediately.

A first aid course will teach you what to do after a tick bite.

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