July 10 2018

Tick Bite Tips and Signs and Symptoms of Lyme Disease


Going outside during the warm weather is great but there are some things to keep in mind. Recently we had a piece on the dangers of heat exhaustion and heat stroke and now we're taking a look at tick bites and Lyme Disease to help ensure everyone has a fun and safe summer. Tick exposure can occur year-round, but ticks are most active during warmer months (April-September).

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has some tips to avoid ticks and signs to look out for after a tick bite that might indicate the presence of Lyme Disease.

Before You Go Outdoors:

- Know where to expect ticks. Ticks live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas, or even on animals. Spending time outside walking your dog, camping, gardening, or hunting could bring you in close contact with ticks. Many people get ticks in their own yard or neighborhood.


- Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin. Permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing and camping gear and remain protective through several washings.


- Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone. EPA’s helpful search tool can help you find the product that best suits your needs. Always follow product instructions.

- Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old.

- Do not use products containing OLE or PMD on children under 3 years old.


- Avoid Contact with Ticks

- Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.

- Walk in the center of trails.

After You Come Indoors:

- Check your clothing for ticks. Ticks may be carried into the house on clothing. Any ticks that are found should be removed. Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed. If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended. Cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks.

- Shower soon after being outdoors. Showering within two hours of coming indoors has been shown to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease and may be effective in reducing the risk of other tickborne diseases. Showering may help wash off unattached ticks and it is a good opportunity to do a tick check.

- Check your body for ticks after being outdoors. Conduct a full body check upon return from potentially tick-infested areas, including your own backyard. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body. Check these parts of your body and your child’s body for ticks:

  - Under the arms

  - In and around the ears

  - Inside belly button

  - Back of the knees

  - In and around the hair

  - Between the legs

  - Around the waist


Click here to see a video on how to properly remove a tick.


While a normal tick bite can be an irritant, some can also carry Lyme Disease, which can cause dangerous long-term conditions. It is good to know some of the signs and symptoms of Lime Disease.


Early signs, normally seen within three to 30 days, include Fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes. A tick bite carrying Lyme Disease also often has a distinctive, bullseye, appearance that grows larger over time called an Erythema migrans (EM) rash.


If left untreated new symptoms may appear, including:


- Severe headaches and neck stiffness

- Additional EM rashes on other areas of the body Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly the knees and other large joints.

- Facial palsy (loss of muscle tone or droop on one or both sides of the face)

- Intermittent pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones

- Heart palpitations or an irregular heart beat (Lyme carditis)

- Episodes of dizziness or shortness of breath

- Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord

- Nerve pain

- Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet

- Problems with short-term memory


If you believe you have been bitten by a tick carrying Lyme Disease seek immediate medical attention.


Graphic courtesy of the CDC


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