Tick Bites – Identification, Prevention and Treatment Guide

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tick bitesTick bites is something every camper or anyone who loves the outdoors is familiar with, especially around summer time. But what are ticks and where are they usually found? What can be done to avoid being bitten by ticks? If you love the outdoors or has experienced some tick bites yourself, then read on and know more about the identification, prevention, and treatment of this predicament.

Tick Bites - What Causes It?

Tick bites are caused by ticks, small spider-like creatures which belongs to the arachnids. They are basically spiders which feeds on human and animal blood. Before you panic and get too afraid, ticks are usually very small and live on the fur and feather of animals. They attach themselves to the skin of animals and feed on their blood. They generally do not feed on humans but they will feed on anything with warm blood, just as humans will eat food to survive. Ticks are not the same as bed bugs though they can have some resemblance in appearance and habits.

Tick Bites - Identification of a Tick Bite

Tick Bites are generally identified by seeing the tick still attached to the skin, but since some insects or creatures may look like ticks, especially the bed bug, a knowing the difference between the two is also important in the identification of tick bites.

Tick Bites - Tick and Bedbug Comparison


Bed Bug

Appearance Has 8 small legs, 4 on each side of the body. Their bodies has the capacity to expand when feeding. Size differs depending on type of tick or if the tick has just fed. A very engorged tick can be a full centimetre in diameter or length and be bluish grey while a non-engorged tick is colored reddish brown. Has 6 small legs, 3 on each side of the body. An adult bed bug can look like a single apple seed with legs when it has just fed. Color is same as that of apple seed.
Health Implications Ticks carry a number of diseases which are harmful to man, the most famous of all is Lyme’s disease which is transmitted by deer ticks. Other diseases which can be transmitted by ticks are:

  • Colorado tick fever
  • Q fever
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever
  • Tularemia
  • African tick bite fever
  • Tick-borne relapsing fever
  • Tick Paralysis
  • Babesiosis
  • Tick-borne meningoencephalitis
  • Bovine anaplasmosis
Bed bugs do not carry diseases, however, they can affect the psychological health of individuals who live in an infested house, especially those who sleep on the infested room.
Habitat and Habits Ticks can be found on basically any warm-blooded animal which has feathers or fur. Some ticks are very small and some are as big as a grain of cooked rice. They are plentiful near woodlands which usually also have lots of animals that carry the ticks, like hares, raccoons, deers, rabbits and squirrels. Ticks thrive better on tropical regions although they can be found in almost every environment. Bed bugs are found inside the home where they have easy access to food (blood). They are usually found in beds, beddings, bed frame, and furnitures which are near the bed.
Bites Identification Identification of a tick bite is usually because the tick is still attached to the skin. A tick bite can easily look like a mosquito bite or just a small reddened area. For the most part, tick bites do not cause signs and symptoms unless the individual bitten is sensitive to the secretions of the tick or if the tick is a carrier of tick-borne diseases. Identification of bed bug bites usually is because of the presence of bed bugs in the location and the appearance of itchy red rashes on the skin. In some cases, rows of reddened and elevated areas appear on the skin, especially for individuals with sensitive skin.

Tick Bites - Signs and Symptoms of a Tick Bite

Signs and symptoms only appear in individuals who are either sensitive or allergic to tick bites or to individuals who may have contracted tick-borne diseases. The following are the signs and symptoms to watch out for:

Tick Bites - Sensitivity Signs and Symptoms

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fever or slightly elevated temperature
  • Headache
  • Pus-filled bumps on the skin
  • Hardened skin elevations
  • Nodules on the skin
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain

Tick Bites - Tick-Borne Diseases Signs and Symptoms

If an individual has spent some time in wooded areas, for example joining camping or hiking trips and has manifested the following signs and symptoms after the activity, it may be a sign of a tick-borne disease.

  • Fevers and chills lasting for a few days to a few weeks
  • Rashes with specific patterns (bull’s eye pattern in Lyme’s Disease)
  • Skin ulcer (as in the case of tularemia)
  • Aches and pains which lasts for a few days to weeks after the tick bite
  • Flu-like signs and symptoms after being bitten by a tick

Tick Bites - Prevention of a Tick Bite

Because ticks transmit a lot of diseases which are harmful to man, prevention of tick bites is of utmost importance, especially for areas which are known to have incidences of tick-borne diseases. Since ticks are common in certain habitats, special precautions must be taken when going to those areas such as:

  1. Avoiding walking in tall grass or shrubs. It is best to walk on clear paths where there are no plants on which ticks may be clinging to.
  2. Wearing socks
  3. Tucking in pants to shoes or socks
  4. Wearing clothes that covers extremities
  5. Wearing clothing which has been treated with insect repellent
  6. Wearing insect repellent
  7. Check pets, self, children, and clothes for ticks after being in a tick-infested areas

Tick Bites - First Aid and Treatment of a Tick Bite

Tick Bites are often obvious since they remain attached to the skin of the person or animal. The following are the steps to the first aid and treatment of tick bites:

  1. Once a tick is discovered to be attached to a person or a pet, it must be removed immediately. If allowed to stay, the tick might transmit diseases or might cause skin reactions. To remove a tick, grasp the head with tweezers, coming in as close to the skin as possible. Pull the tick away, avoiding any twisting motion.
  2. Clean the bitten area with soap and water.
  3. Apply an anti-itching cream if itching starts.
  4. Observe the tick bite or tick bites if it is many.
  5. Allergic signs and symptoms or tick-borne diseases signs and symptoms should receive immediate medical attention.

Tick Bites - Bites of Wisdom

Tick bites can be easily managed by observing the most important rule of all, which is prevention. Proper knowledge of tick bite identification, signs and symptoms of tick bites and treatment of tick bites are also important especially for those who love the outdoors, those who have pets, or those who live in tick infested areas to know what to do in the case of tick bites.

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