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What to Do When You Find a Tick on Your Body

What to Do When You Find a Tick on Your Body

North Carolina is home to several types of ticks. They’re found year-round, but you or your child are most likely to encounter one in the late spring to early fall. 

Don’t let the fear of tick-borne illnesses keep you from enjoying outdoor fun. At First Pediatric Care Center, Dr. Margaret Lubega and our friendly staff can give you tips on how to protect yourself from ticks. And, if you should find one on your body, here’s what you should do.

What are ticks?

Ticks are a member of the spider family (arachnids) that feed on the blood of mammals. This means they have to attach to a host to feed. 

A tick grasps onto your skin and inserts a feeding tube. This is when any bacteria carried by the tick can enter your body and possibly spread disease. 

Ticks will hang on until they’re full. The longer a tick hangs on, the fatter it appears and the better chance it has of spreading disease-causing bacteria.

What to do if you find a tick?

First, don’t panic if you find a tick attached to yourself or your child. You can remove it safely with clean, fine-tipped tweezers. Grip as close to the surface of the skin as possible to remove the entirety of the tick's body.

Then, pull upward. Don’t twist or jerk, which can cause the mouth of the tick to remain attached.

Once the tick is removed, clean the bite area with soap and water or rubbing alcohol. 

If the tick is still alive, dispose of it by placing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed container, wrapping it in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. 

Do not wait for the tick to dislodge itself. Covering the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly are not effective tick-removal measures. 

When do I need to see a doctor?

If you believe a part of the tick still attached, store the body of the tick in a container or zipper-sealed plastic bag and head to our office. We can help the wound heal and determine the likelihood that the tick carried disease.

If you or your child develop a rash or fever within a few weeks of removing the tick, make an appointment with Dr. Lubega and our team. Be sure to tell us about the tick bite, when it occurred, and where you encountered the tick. 

Protect yourself from ticks

You can do a lot to protect your family from ticks. Before heading outside, apply a tick prevention spray. We can recommend one for you.

If you know you’ll be hiking in tick habitats, like tall grassy areas, wear long pants and tuck them into your socks. 

When your outdoor adventures are done, lint roll your clothes and take a shower, which can dislodge a tick that isn’t attached yet. Check your children for any possible ticks. The sooner you find one that has attached and remove it, the less chance it has to spread disease. 

If you’re concerned about a tick bite and symptoms checking in with Margaret Lubega, MD, and our team in Gastonia, North Carolina, can help. Use the tool here to book your child’s appointment expediently.

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