A look at tick bites, treatments and prevention

·4 min read

With warmer temperatures and summer days approaching folks will be spending more time outdoors. As always there are precautions like wearing sunscreen and staying hydrated that should be considered when participating in any outdoor activities.

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The presence of ticks should be kept in mind when exploring and enjoying time outside as well. These tiny, parasitic creatures can cause many complications after attaching themselves to a human host.

Ticks are arachnids, not insects.They have eight legs and are related to spiders. These tiny, eight-legged creatures are parasites. They attach themselves to a host (humans and other animals), and feed off the blood supply. There are many types of ticks that can be encountered.

According to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), in Ohio, the three most common types are the American dog tick, the black-legged tick and the lone star tick.Tick bites aren’t only dangerous because they feed on blood, but they can spread diseases in the process.

Ticks spread Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever

The two most commonly seen diseases spread through ticks in Ohio are Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF).

Early symptoms of these conditions can be seen anywhere from three to 30 days post bite.

Symptoms of RMSF can include: fever, headache, lack of appetite, stomach pain, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting. A rash typically occurs within four days after the fever occurs.

Early Lyme disease symptoms can present like the flu and may include: chills, fatigue, fever, joint pain, muscle aches, nausea and sweats. A nonspecific rash or a “bullseye” shaped rash can appear around the bite site or on other parts of the body.

There are complications that can appear as these diseases progress that can be life threatening. It is important to seek medical care if you experience these symptoms after finding a tick on yourself or a family member, or if these symptoms appear in a person who is unsure if they had a tick bite.

When a tick is found on a person, it should be removed immediately. The less time a tick is attached, the risk of transmission of tick borne diseases decreases.

Ohio Department of Health outlines how to remove a tick

ODH outlines removal of a tick by using a clean pair of fine tip tweezers. Use the tweezers to grasp the end of the tick close to the skin's surface. Use an upward pulling motion, avoiding any twisting of the tick.

If the head is not easily removed, it can be left, and the skin will heal over the area. Soap and water should be used to thoroughly clean the area after the removal of the tick.

Dispose of the removed tick by placing it in rubbing alcohol, sealing it in a bag or container, wrapping tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet.

Once it is identified that a tick bite has occurred, and any of the above symptoms occur, treatment should be rendered by a health-care provider. The provider will conduct a thorough assessment, health and history questioning, and determine what testing and treatment will be best for the situation.

In some cases, antibiotics will be prescribed to treat some of the possible diseases caused by the tick bites, but that is not always the case. Providers may manage other symptoms, like aches and pains, with medications as well.

Some diseases, if progressed far enough, may require lo long-terrm treatment plans that will be developed by providers depending on severity and need of each individual.

Ways to prevent ticks from attaching to a host

The key to preventing tick bites is preventing having them attach themselves to a host. There are ways to prevent this.

University Hospitals Samaritan Medical Center nurse practitioner, Kimberly Moritz states: “Avoid areas where ticks thrive, like wooden areas and areas with high grasses. When going outdoors, be sure to properly dress. Wear light-colored clothing to make spotting a tick easier. Wear long pants and long-sleeve shirts, tuck shirts into pants and tuck pant legs into the socks. Use bug repellent labeled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency specified as a tick repellent."

Checking for ticks should be done each time an outdoor activity occurs. Check clothing for ticks before returning indoors. Shower as soon as possible upon returning inside. Pets should be checked as well as they can become a host and carry the ticks indoors providing an opportunity to find a human host.

For more information related to this article on tick bites, treatments and prevention you can visit The ODH website at https://odh.ohio.gov/know-our-programs/zoonotic-disease-program/resources/tickborne-diseases . If you need to see a provider for a tick bite, for the treatment of tick borne diseases, or other health concerns, visit uhhospitals.org/schedule.

This article originally appeared on Ashland Times Gazette: A look at tick bites, treatments and prevention