A tick bite can be a host to a variety of illnesses which can be either mild or severe. The effects of the bite varies from person to person depending on the kind of tick involved, the disease or infection it is carrying and the person’s hypersensitivity to the bite. The victim of the bite may notice visible swelling and itchiness on the bite site, accompanied by fever, muscle and joint pains and fatigue. Some may develop a bulls-eye rash on the bite site which indicates Lyme Disease.
Tick bites should be treated to address the discomforting symptoms and prevent secondary infections from happening. Treatment is also important in preventing infectious diseases from spreading further. There are a whole lot of ways to treat a tick bite and its accompanying symptoms. Generally, treatment begins by removing the tick and cleaning the affected area; then applying topical creams to relieve itching and swelling. If the symptoms become severe and a sore develops, it would be best to visit the doctor.
How do people get a tick bite?
People can get bitten by a tick in several ways:
- Walking through tick-infested areas
- Playing outdoors and hiking
- Gardening and camping
- Having a tick-infested pet
Ticks feed on the blood of humans and animals. They attach themselves to their host whenever they get the chance to do so. They are commonly found in areas where they can meet their host such as bushy areas of plants, weeds, trees and grass. They also live near streams, burrows, nests and lakes. Ticks bite to suck blood from their host. They do this by embedding their barbed mouth into their host’s skin, piercing deep into the small blood vessels.
Why treat a tick bite?
There are very good reasons why people should seek treatment when bitten by a tick.
- To prevent the spread of disease
The bite of a tick might carry certain diseases that may eventually lead to serious medical problems. This makes it very important to remove the tick immediately as soon as it is discovered latching onto the skin to prevent the disease from spreading.
- To prevent the bite site from getting infected
The bitten area could become infected which may lead to further complications. It may become infected during tick removal or even the healing process.
- To prevent paralysis
Paralysis occurs when the victim fails to remove the parasite as it renders the respiratory muscles paralyzed.
What are the symptoms of a tick bite?
It is very challenging to identify a tick bite mainly because the bite mark quickly disappears. Most victims are even unaware that a tick has bitten them due to the neurotoxins contained in its saliva which numbs the affected area. It also has anticoagulant properties that thin out the blood for trouble-free blood-sucking. Ticks could latch onto the skin for a few days and simply drop off when they are done.
The victim may however experience several discomforts days or weeks after getting bitten by a tick. These include:
- Muscle and joint pains
- Muscle weakness
The bite site may itch and swell too. Skin manifestations greatly vary depending on the kind of infection transmitted by the tick. Among the diseases that could be transmitted by a tick bite are:
- Lyme Disease
This is a bacterial infection that causes bulls-eye rash on the bite site accompanied by flu-like symptoms, arthritis, thinking difficulties and irregular heartbeat.
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever
RMSF is a deadly bacterial infection that causes spotted and patchy rash on the arms, wrists, legs and ankles that come with nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and muscle aches.
- Colorado tick fever
This is a form of viral infection that is manifested by spotted rash, fever, chills, muscle aches, severe headache and light intolerance.
This is an infectious bacterial infection that can be mild to severe. Tularemia causes general malaise, fever and headache, as well as a single ulcerated bump with scab on the center. Severe tularemia leads to septic shock and even death.
Ehrlichiosis rarely produces rash but causes flu-like symptoms. This bacterial infection proves fatal for people with compromised immunity.
Babesiosis does not usually cause any symptoms. However, it can be deadly for those with weak immunity.
What should be done when bitten by a tick?
The first step is to remove the tick. Tick removal is not easy as it should be done with great care and caution to ensure that the entire tick, including its head, is removed without crushing or squeezing it to prevent it from releasing its toxins. Use fine tweezers when removing the tick, grabbing the head and pulling it off gently. Wash the affected area with soap and water. The bite site, hands and tweezers should be washed and disinfected. If the entire tick is not removed, it would be best to visit the doctor. Those who develop uncomfortable symptoms should consult the doctor as well.
Tick bite pictures