by Dr. David Minkoff July 17, 2023 4 min read
It’s summer time, and if you plan on getting out into the woods or into the mountains, then it’s important you know how to spot ticks and remove them, or prevent them from getting onto you in the first place.
Because their bite can potentially carry harmful bacteria that causes Lyme Disease, Spotted Fever, and a series of other illnesses.
This doesn’t mean you need to be scared at all. Far from it.
It just means that you need to be informed.
You need to know what they look like, where to look for them, and what to do if you find one.
Or, better yet, how to prevent them from getting onto you in the first place so you can have a safe adventure and enjoy the outdoors without worry.
Ticks are small arachnids (in the same family as spiders) that can be found all over the world, usually in outdoor areas with grass, brush, or woods.
In the US we have several different species in different places:
These are just a few examples, but you get the idea of what they can do and why we need to take precautions to enjoy our time outdoors without issue.
Ticks can't fly or jump, instead they do something called “questing” to find someone to latch onto.
They’ll climb to the top of a blade of grass, or a leaf, and extend their front legs. Then, when an animal or person brushes against that blade of grass or leaf, it quickly climbs onto the them.
Once on you they tend toward certain areas on the body, such as the groin, scalp, and armpits, which are warm, moist, and well protected.
But even so, they can attach anywhere on the body, often in hard-to-see areas.
On pets they generally go to the armpits, elbows or hind legs. Though again, they can go anywhere.
How you check for them is simple.
And, while you can do some of this checking before coming home, the rest must be done once you get home.
Now, ticks are oval-shaped, somewhat flat, wingless, and have eight legs. Adults are about the size of an apple seed, while nymphs (young ticks) are about the size of a poppy seed. They can be brown, reddish-brown, or black.
But they’re small, so you have to look closely.
Thoroughly check your entire body for ticks. Use a full-length mirror to do this so you don’t miss anything.
Be sure to check these parts of your body, your child's body, and any pets you have:
And, again, finish it up with a full length mirror examining your whole body to be sure.
If you find a tick attached to your skin, don't panic. The key is to remove the tick as soon as possible, but to do so gently and completely.
If you develop a rash or fever within several weeks of removing a tick, see your doctor.
And be sure to tell them when the bite occurred, what the tick looked like, and where you most likely acquired the tick. This is so they can more easily identify what type of tick it is and know what to test for.
Tick bites are generally only dangerous if not addressed soon after, so don’t get worried, just go see your doctor.
Of course the best course of action is just to work to prevent ticks from getting on you in the first place.
And it’s pretty simple:
Ticks are part of life and you're bound to run into them at some point. But they’re no reason to not get out, go hiking or walking through the forest, or have a good time.
Be smart about it and apply the above and you should be just fine.
I hope this helps.
by Dr. David Minkoff
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