In many parts of the United States, ticks are a natural part of outdoor activities. Unfortunately, tick-borne illnesses are becoming more prevalent in many regions of the U.S. If you are unlucky enough to find a tick on yourself or a pet, here's what you should do.
You may have heard all sorts of suggestions for removing ticks, from burning them with matches to coating them with nail polish to smothering them with Vaseline. Unfortunately, these methods can actually increase the risk of infection since they often cause the tick's head to separate from its body. To safely remove a tick, you need to make sure the entire tick comes away intact.
Once you remove the tick you can either dispose of it or have it tested for diseases. Certain state agencies offer tick testing, but if you aren't sure where to send the tick, ask your doctor.
Because ticks can transmit Lyme disease and other potentially serious infections, it's best to avoid them in the first place. You can reduce your risk of tick bites with the following tips:
In most cases, you won't need to see a doctor for a tick bite. That said, if you show any of the following symptoms in the days or weeks after removing a tick, you should schedule an appointment with a physician to test for a potential tick-borne infection.
In some instances, a tick-borne illness can lead to serious issues, including nerve pain, numbness, heart palpitations, paralysis of facial muscles, shortness of breath, lightheadedness or fainting. Since early medical intervention can reduce the risk of long-term issues, it's important to see your doctor if you notice any strange symptoms following a tick bite. Since ticks can sometimes fall away without being noticed, you should also visit your doctor if you feel strange after spending time outdoors, even if you haven't found a tick on your body.
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