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First Aid for Tick Bites

Last updated March 5, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

Ticks are small insects that attach to one’s skin and draw blood while also releasing secretions into the bloodstream. Ticks can be of various varieties and sizes and do not always carry disease.

What is Tick Bites?

  • Ticks are small insects that attach to one’s skin and draw blood while also releasing secretions into the bloodstream. Ticks can be of various varieties and sizes and do not always carry disease
  • Ticks are found across the world ticks and the common ones include spinose ear tick, black-legged tick, American dog tick, paralysis tick, lone star tick, etc.

What are the Causes of Tick Bites?

The cause of Tick Bites may include:

  • Walking through wooded and mountainous areas
  • Living or camping in tick-infested areas
  • Transfer of tick from pet fur to human skin
  • Migration of tick from one site on skin to another

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Tick Bites?

The signs and symptoms of Tick Bites vary based on the size of the individual affected (amount of toxin in the bloodstream), tick strain/species, and what disease, if any, is carried by the tick. The symptoms can be expressed within a few hours to a few days following the Tick Bite.

The signs and symptoms may include:

  • Attachment of tick on the skin: Armpits, groin, scalp, and other warm, moist areas
  • Difficult or interrupted breathing
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fever
  • Skin rash and blister
  • Pain or inflammation at the bite site

How is First Aid administered for Tick Bites?

First Aid for Tick Bites:

  • Remove ticks from skin with the use of gloves and a tweezer
  • Use the tweezer to grab the head of the tick and remove it
  • Store tick in a jar and freeze
  • Wash hands and bite site with soap and lukewarm water
  • Use alcohol swabs to disinfect the bite site
  • If the affected individual has breathing difficulties, paralysis, severe headache, or coordination issues, call 911 (or your local emergency help number)
  • If you are unsure as to what should be done, call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 (or your local poison control center) for further instructions
  • Take individual to emergency room (ER) for further treatment
  • Always try to take the tick specimen to the ER

Who should administer First Aid for Tick Bites?

First aid can be administered by the affected individual or someone near the affected individual.

  • In case of severe symptoms following Tick Bites, such as an allergic reaction, then immediately call 911 or your local emergency help number
  • One should also call the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222 (or the local poison control center) and follow instructions

What is the Prognosis of Tick Bites?

  • The prognosis of Tick Bites is dependent on the size of the individual, the strain of the tick and if the tick is carrying a disease
  • In a vast majority of cases, a Tick Bite is a harmless incident. However, it is recommended to exercise proper vigilance

How can Tick Bites be Prevented?

Tick Bites may be prevented by:

  • Avoiding contact with weeds and plants while hiking
  • Wearing light-colored clothes to enable spotting ticks
  • Cover skin fully while hiking (full-sleeved shirts and full-length pants)
  • Use preventative antibiotics if hiking in regions known for disease-carrying ticks
  • Spray clothes with insect repellant
  • Examine skin areas and hair for tick exposure after hiking

What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?

  • Remove tick from attached site
  • Seek medical help, if part of tick remains attached to the skin
  • Call 911 in case of severe symptoms

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Aug. 28, 2017
Last updated: March 5, 2018