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What do I do if I find a tick on me?

This articles contains simple instructions on what to do if you think you have a tick on you, written by the dashing and informative CHC Pharmacist, Max Timmins.

Living in such a beautiful country as Australia means countless journeys can be had and amazing sites seen! Unfortunately you might find a little traveller on you after one such adventure, so here is a simple list of what to do if you happen to find a tick on you!

Ticks – where to look and what to do:

1. Where to look:
Tick bites are usually painless, so I recommend that after spending time outdoors in areas with thick or high vegetation that you check yourself, and your family, for ticks. Ticks like moist areas with good blood supply, so pay special attention to areas like armpits, back of the head, behind the ears and back of the knees. Make sure you also regularly check your pets.

2. Remove the tick:
There are two easy ways to remove a tick.
• If you can find a thin piece of thread such as dental floss, make a loose knot in it. Then slip the knot over the tick as close as possible to the skin. Once you tighten the knot the tick should be forced away and fall from the skin.
• Alternatively, use a small pair of tweezers or forceps to pull the tick out. Again, you need to make sure you place the tweezers as close as possible to the skin. Pull gently and do not squeeze too tight so that you can ensure none of the head is left behind.

How to remove a tick

How to remove a tick with string

3. Check for any remaining parts
If you can see any remaining mouthparts or head still attached to the skin you need to make sure they are also removed. If any parts of the tick are left a local skin reaction can still occur. The reaction can sometimes last weeks and can cause itchiness, rash, swelling and sometimes pain. See your doctor or pharmacist if any of these occur.

4. Monitor for other symptoms
Ticks can rarely cause more serious reactions. These include:
• Paralysis – paralysis ticks are found on the eastern seaboard of Australia, and while tick paralysis more commonly occurs in animals it can affect humans as well. The paralysis usually starts with leg weakness, which slowly spreads to other parts of the body such as the trunk and arms. Headache, fever and facial paralysis may also occur. Removal of the tick usually reverses the paralysis, however if you experience any of these symptoms you should go straight to the doctor
• Lyme disease – Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that ticks can pass to humans if they are infected with the bacteria. Early symptoms of Lyme disease are primarily ‘flu-like’ symptoms, such as headache, fever, chills, muscle soreness and fatigue. In addition, about half of people with Lyme disease develop a circular, expanding ‘bulls-eye’ rash around the bite site. If you experience any of these symptoms contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Of course, the best way to deal with ticks is prevention! Before going to known tick areas use insect repellant containing 20% DEET or higher, wear long pants tucked in to your socks and wear light coloured clothing so that if you do find a tick on you it is before it reaches your skin!

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