It’s officially summer in North Carolina – which means it’s officially tick season, too. And, unfortunately, because we had one of the mildest winters on record in 2016-2017, we’re predicted to have a peskier than normal tick problem this year.
What do you do if you get bitten by a tick?
Don’t panic. Family medicine physician, Dr. Mark Macpherson, is here from WakeMed Physician Practices Primary Care – Apex with expert advice on what to do if you find a tick on you or a family member.
#1 – Keep Them Away.
Since ticks like humid and damp conditions, try to avoid wooded or grassy areas and keep your grass and yard mowed and well-maintained. Try to avoid ticks altogether by wearing suitable bug spray (20% DEET is recommended) or if you prefer, try a natural tick repellent.
#2 – Perform Careful Tick Checks.
Since ticks can be hard to avoid here in NC – especially if you’re the outdoorsy type, make sure to carefully check for ticks after an outdoor outing. It’s best to shower as quickly as possible and look closely for ticks around your: ears; underarms; belly button, behind the knees, waist and especially on your scalp. Throw your clothes in the wash (hot water) immediately or at least in the dryer on high heat for 10 minutes.
#3 – Remove Ticks Properly.
If all efforts to keep them away fail, practice these tips for save removal.
Avoid trying removal techniques that involve matches, nail polish remover, gasoline, etc.
Burns and other risks outweigh the benefits for most of these methods, said Dr. Casey. They might even irritate the tick more, which could cause them to regurgitate pathogens into the wound.
Tick Removal: Do’s and Don’ts
- DO use fine-tipped tweezers.
- DO wear gloves if available.
- DON’T use your fingers.
- DO grab the tick at the part that is stuck in your skin.
- DON’T grab the tick around its bloated belly.
- DO gently pull the tick straight out until it lets go of your skin.
- DON’T twist and turn the tick.
- DON’T crush it because you are expelling its pathogens.
- DO to remove the entire tick. If most of it is removed, you generally do not need to have it checked unless other symptoms develop.
- DO consider putting the tick in a jar or sealed bag and place it in a freezer for possible identification later.
- DO clean the area with soap and water. Peroxide and antibiotic ointment are OK, too, if needed.
#4 – Monitor the Site.
While a tick bite doesn’t usually require a visit to the doctor, many feel better just having an expert opinion.
“While most tick experiences are harmless, we’re happy to take a look to be sure it’s been removed properly and walk our patients through what symptoms to keep a watch for,” explains Dr. Macpherson. “While redness at the site is normal, a rash may be important to have checked out. Other symptoms to watch for include headache, fatigue, muscle or joint aches.”
- CDC | Tick Removal & Testing
About Mark Macpherson, MD
Dr. Mark Macpherson is experienced in all aspects of family medicine, focusing on preventative health practices and health maintenance. He is committed to teaching his patients how to make lifestyle changes, especially though fitness and nutrition, so that they can lead fuller, longer, healthier lives.
A resident of Apex, N.C., for nearly 20 years, Dr. Macpherson is proud to be a part of the team at WakeMed Physician Practices – Primary Care – Apex.