A tick bite is a serious cause for concern. Here are the most important things to do after a tick bite.
When I was a kid, summers meant being outdoors playing in my backyard until it got dark. When I was 6 or 7 I remember coming inside my house with a strange feeling in my ear. My dad checked it out and found a tick had latched on to the inside of my ear. What a place for a tick to attach itself, right? He called our neighbor, a doctor, who instructed him to light a match, then quickly blow it out. He said to then touch the match to the tick. If you pull a tick off you the head tends to break off and its fangs stay imbedded (eek! I know). Though my dad’s no surgeon, his precision in my little ear was on point!
Luckily, the tick latched on to an area of my body sensitive enough to detect it. For others, a tick could attach itself to your body and you might not know for days. Back in the 80s, when I was first bitten by a tick, though not something pleasant, was something you could wait and go to the doctor, if not discovered immediately. But fast forward to now and it is a whole other story as I found out when I got a tick bite after a night hike last year.
I went on a moonlight hike (I know kind of weird, but it was fun). Though I wore long pants and sneakers covering my feet and legs, I had a short sleeve shirt on. It was easy for a tick to get to my skin since the t-shirt has several openings. When Glen and I got back to the hotel, I was about to take a shower. I took my shirt off and he noticed something on my back. He tried to wipe it off and upon further inspection, noticed a tick had attached itself!
Though well after 11 pm, luckily there was a 24 hour CVS pharmacy open. Though Glen wasn’t gone long, it felt like an eternity. What shouldn’t you do if you discover a tick bite? Start googling it. When Glen came back with a bag of supplies to get to work and in that time I was convinced that I’d either contracted Lyme disease or would never be able to eat red meat again! Let me explain. There are different varieties of ticks. Some ticks, if not removed soon enough can transmit Lyme disease. There’s no cure and the side effects are life long. Then there’s another kind of tick that can transmit a disease that will cause an allergic reaction to red meat.
The alpha-gal meat allergy means that people afflicted can no longer tolerate beef, pork or lamb. They break out in hives, have stomach problems and more. This is specifically caused by the Lone Start tick which used to only be found in the southeast but has since moved way up the east coast of the US.
Glen, my hero, heated up the needle with a lighter and that motherf*%&in tick was off me in no time. Luckily, I experienced no health concerns after.
How to defend yourself from a tick bite:
- Wear clothing that covers your body to deter a tick from getting on your body.
- Use a spray that contains Permethrin, the insecticide found in antimalarial products, to ward ticks off.
- Hose down the dog to stop a tick from getting inside. Though most ticks that would latch on to a dog, don’t carry diseases that can harm a human, don’t take any chances. Check the dog before they unknowingly bring ticks in your house and on your body.
If you are bitten by a tick, here’s what you should do*:
- Do NOT just pull the tick out. If you do that, the head remains intact where the disease is and killing the tick results in the poison being released into your system.
- Prick the tick with a hot needle in the center of it’s body. This will cause it to die and its fangs will release from you. Though I couldn’t see what Glen did, according to him, it looked like the tick was electrocuted as he pushed the needle in it.
- Don’t throw the tick away. You may be inclined to flush it down the toilet but don’t. Put it in a plastic bag so it can be identified by your doctor, in case you have symptoms. Or take a picture of it.
- To be extra safe, visit your doctor and get a test for Lyme disease.