Deer ticks may be small, but they’re dangerous! Why? Because they carry Lyme disease, which is a bacterial infection that may have long-lasting effects on your health. Lyme disease is most common in the northeastern United States, including Massachusetts. As spring is coming to an end, ticks are going to be in abundance during the summer months, especially in wooded areas, tall grass, and leaf litter. Knowing how to protect yourself from these pests is crucial in preventing the spread of Lyme disease.
AFC Urgent Care Dedham has built a guide to educate you not only on deer ticks and lyme disease, but how to prevent deer tick bites and lyme disease symptoms.
Recognizing the Signs of Lyme Disease
Deer ticks are hard to spot, so it's important to know the signs of Lyme disease. Symptoms will develop days or even weeks after being bitten. The most common symptom is a red rash that looks like a bullseye, but not everyone develops this rash.
Other symptoms may include:
- joint pain
- fever and chills.
If you experience any of these symptoms after spending time outdoors, seek medical attention immediately.
Prevention Tips for Avoiding Deer Ticks
The best way to protect yourself from Lyme disease is to prevent deer tick bites in the first place. Here are some prevention tips:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when spending time outdoors in wooded areas or tall grass.
- Use insect repellent that contains at least 20% DEET on exposed skin.
- Check yourself and your pets for ticks after spending time outdoors, paying special attention to the scalp, behind the ears, and in the armpits and groin area.
- Take a shower within two hours of coming indoors to wash off any unattached ticks.
- Keep your lawn mowed and remove any leaf litter or brush piles where ticks may hide.
- Treat your pets with tick preventatives to reduce the risk of bringing ticks indoors.
Tick Removal Techniques
If you do find a tick on yourself, it's important to remove it properly to prevent the spread of Lyme disease. Here's how to remove a tick:
- Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible.
- Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick as this can cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin.
- After removing the tick, clean the bite area with soap and water, rubbing alcohol, or an iodine scrub.
- Save the tick in a sealed container in case you develop symptoms and need to have it tested for Lyme disease.
Seeking Medical Attention for Tick Bites
If you develop a rash, fever, or other symptoms after being bitten by a tick, seek medical attention immediately. Lyme disease is treatable with antibiotics, but early treatment is crucial to prevent long-term complications. AFC Urgent Care Dedham offers walk-in services for tick bites and removals, so you can get the care you need as soon as possible. Don't hesitate to seek medical attention if you suspect you may have been bitten by a tick.
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