Tick bites

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First aid: Tick bites

Some ticks transmit bacteria that cause illnesses such as Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Your risk of contracting one of these diseases depends on where you live or travel to, how much time you spend in wooded areas, and how well you protect yourself.

What to do if a tick bites you

  • Remove the tick promptly and carefully. Use tweezers to grasp the tick near its head or mouth and pull gently to remove the whole tick without crushing it.
  • If possible, seal the tick in a container. Put the container in your freezer. Your doctor may want to see the tick if you develop signs or symptoms of illness after a tick bite.
  • Use soap and water to wash your hands and the area around the tick bite after handling the tick.
  • Call your doctor if you aren't able to completely remove the tick.

See your doctor if you develop:

  • A rash
  • A fever
  • A stiff neck
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint pain and inflammation
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Light sensitivity to the eyes or skin (photosensitivity)

If possible, bring the tick with you to your doctor's appointment.

Call 911 or your local emergency number if you develop:

  • A severe headache
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Paralysis
  • Chest pain or heart palpitations
Last Updated: 2011-12-16
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