Why Do You Have To Be Careful When Removing A Tick?

Is a tick an insect?

A tick is an external parasite that feeds on the blood of other animals. It is a type of medium-sized arthropod belonging, like spiders and scorpions, to the arachnid family.

Its size can vary from three millimeters to one centimeter, depending on factors as diverse as the species, sex (male or female), the moment of its biological cycle (larva, nymph, or adult), and the amount of blood that the tick has ingested from its tenant, be it an animal or a human being.

Some 850 different types of ticks are known and, although most are harmless, some of them can transmit various diseases. In fact, in Europe, they are the first most frequent transmitter or vector of diseases in humans and the second most frequent in the world, after mosquitoes, according to the IO Foundation.

Why Do You Have To Be Careful When Removing A Tick?

When and where is there more risk of being bitten?

There is the greatest risk of biting from May to October, although some species can also bite during the winter. They tend to bite during the day.

These parasites are usually found in wooded or tall grass areas, clinging to branches, shrubs, or thick brush. They may also be attached to other animals, feeding.

How does the bite occur?

As mentioned above, ticks usually remain crouched in the brush or bushes, waiting for a potential host to pass by and latch onto. Contrary to what is often thought, they do not do this by jumping or flying but usually attach themselves to the animal or person passing by. However, they can also move along the ground until they reach them. It may also happen that the parasite passes from one host directly to another.

Once on the host, they seek out warm, moist places on the body. In humans, these are usually creased areas such as the groin, buttocks, back of the legs, armpits, navel, back, genitals, or behind the ears. They may also itch on the scalp.

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How do you detect a tick bite?

When it bites, the tick inoculates with saliva anesthetic substances that make the bite painless, so the affected person or animal does not usually notice anything, except, sometimes, slight itching or redness in the area.

For this reason, it is necessary to check the body carefully immediately after having been engaged in activities in risk areas. If necessary, you should ask for help or use a mirror to check even those areas of the body that are more difficult for you to see.

The longer the parasite remains on its host, the greater the risk of disease transmission.

What are the consequences of a tick bite?

Not all tick bites, and not all ticks transmit diseases. Only some species can do so and, in Spain, according to the IO Foundation, the risk of infection is low and differs depending on the geographical area. According to this institution, the most frequent tick-borne diseases in our country are:

Other less frequent diseases: human anaplasmosis or babesiosis and, sporadically, cases of tularemia and Crimean-Congo fever have been known.
The symptoms of some of these diseases can be severe, but when correctly diagnosed, they are successfully treated with antibiotics, and most people make a full recovery. If left untreated, the infection can spread and cause alterations in other organs and rashes in other areas of the body. In some cases, neurological problems or arthritis, among other disorders, may develop.

What to do in case of a tick bite?

If we realize that a tick has bitten us, it is essential to remove it as soon as possible since, as we know, the more time passes, the greater the likelihood of infection.

The parasite must be completely removed by grasping the parasite as close to the skin as possible using fine-tipped tweezers. The parasite should then be gently pulled upwards without twisting or twisting the forceps. Try not to crush the parasite’s body so that its contents are not expelled through the point where it adheres to the skin.

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Do not use home remedies or products such as petroleum jelly, nail polish or oil, or heat sources such as lit matches to separate the tick. These methods may cause the parasite to contract and inject more infectious substances into the person’s body.

After removing the tick, clean the area with soap and water and apply an antiseptic. Then wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. In no case should the parasite be crushed with the fingers; instead, it is beneficial to keep it in a jar with wet paper, and in case the affected person develops symptoms or complications, it should be taken to a laboratory to be analyzed and checked for the possible microorganism causing the infection.

If any part of the tick remains under the skin, medical attention should be sought, as well as if, during the following weeks, symptoms such as the ones we will see below appear.

What symptoms should we look for after a tick bite?

In addition to looking for possible reddened areas or rashes at the site of the bite, in the following four weeks, we should keep alert to signs and symptoms such as:

  • Intense pain at the site of the bites that last for several weeks.
  • Fever.
  • Joint or muscle pain.
  • Stiffness in the neck.
  • Headache.
  • Weakness, which may become extremely
  • swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy).
  • Flu-like symptoms.
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Uncoordinated movements.
  • There may be involvement of the liver, heart, or other organs.
  • In any case, the risk of developing a tick-borne disease is minimal, although, of course, if symptoms appear, it is essential to inform your doctor.


Ten tips to prevent tick bites and avoid transmission of disease

When we practice outdoor activities in risky areas, we can take some precautions that will reduce the risk of tick bites:

  1. Walk in the middle of trails.
    When you go to the countryside or rural areas, avoid walking through bushes or tall vegetation and sitting in areas with a lot of vegetation.
  2. Wear discreet clothing.
    Bright clothing attracts ticks, so it is best not to wear bright or brightly colored clothing.
  3. Wear high socks and long sleeves and pants.
    Another trick to prevent ticks from coming in contact with your skin is to tuck your pant leg into your sock, or at least make sure your sock is well covered.
  4. Wear closed shoes.
    You will protect your feet from possible bites.
  5. Apply a suitable repellent.
    It should contain at least 20% DEET (if applied on the skin) or permethrin (if applied on clothing). In both cases, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use and remember that DEET is not recommended for children under six years of age and should not be used on children under 2 months of age.
  6. On your return, check your body for ticks.
    Use a mirror or ask someone else to help, if necessary. Also, inspect your children and pets.
  7. Shower after each outing.
    Shower as soon as possible and use a white or light-colored towel to dry off. Afterward, wash your clothes at a high temperature. If, despite the precautions, we realize that we have received a tick bite, follow these measures of action:
  8. Remove the tick as soon as possible.
    The more time it spends inside the host, the greater the probability of infection. Using tweezers, grasp it as close to your skin as possible and gently pull it upwards, without twisting the tweezers and without crushing it. Do not use home remedies or fire to separate the tick from the skin because they can cause it to contract and inject more infectious substances.
  9. Once it is out of your skin, do not crush it.
    After removing the tick, do not crush it with your fingers or against the ground, but keep it in a jar with damp paper.
  10. Clean the area of the bite and go to the doctor if there are remains of the tick.
    Wash your hands thoroughly after cleaning the bite area. And if symptoms such as pain, fever, neck stiffness, headache, or weakness appear in the following days or weeks, seek medical attention and take the tick stored in the container to a laboratory for analysis.
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