Tick Bite Prevention & Treatment Tips from Virtual Immediate Care

Pictured above: Renee Broze on a tick-free hike

Tick bites can be a serious health hazard, particularly in New England where ticks are abundant and can bite any time the temperature is above freezing. These tiny arachnids often carry pathogens that can spread to humans and pets, causing serious conditions including Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, Powassan virus, and rarely, Rocky Mountain spotted fever or other Rickettsial illnesses.

Since they are so small, you may not notice a tick bite. Ticks bury their heads under your skin to suck your blood and will stay attached for several days. If you spend time where ticks might be, it’s crucial to check your skin as soon you come inside, including changing your clothes. If a tick is removed less than 36 hours after being bitten, it is very unlikely you will get sick from it. If you do feel sick after a tick bite, please see a healthcare provider right away.

Tick-borne illness often starts with flu-like symptoms and possibly a bulls-eye shaped mark. Joint pain, joint swelling, and headaches are also common. With undetected Lyme disease, infection may cause facial paralysis, nerve damage, and heart problems.

Fortunately, most tick-borne disease is treatable with antibiotics, but it’s better to prevent the bite in the first place. Simple things you can do to avoid tick bites include:
  • be aware of the risk in grassy, forested, or brush covered areas
  • wear long pants, and tuck pant legs into socks
  • wear insect repellant that includes DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon & eucalyptus
  • treat your outdoor clothing with preventative spray such as permethrin
  • monitor pets who may carry ticks
  • check yourself and loved-ones thoroughly after being outdoors, especially in ear folds, armpits, hairline, groin, & belly button
If you are bitten by a tick, remove it right away. If the tick was attached for an unknown amount of time, or for more than 36 hours, see a health care provider for a preventive dose of antibiotic.

To remove a tick, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as closely to the skin as possible at a perpendicular angle and slowly pull straight up until the tick comes out. Then wash thoroughly with soap and water and apply an antibiotic ointment. Never crush a tick with your fingers. Dispose of a live tick by placing it in a sealed bag or container, sealing it in tape, or flushing it down the toilet.


Virtual Immediate Care is Now Available

Immediate Care is available for walk-in appointments with an experienced provider. We now also provide virtual appointments! Our virtual care providers can walk you through removal of a tick, prescribe preventative antibiotics, order testing for tick-borne illness, and order treatment. Just call 603-577-CARE to schedule a virtual visit Monday through Friday, 9 am – 7 pm. You can also check Immediate Care walk-in wait times online.

Our Immediate Care team is always here for you, providing quality care in your own community.

Posted: 5/5/2023 by Renee Broze, APRN, Immediate Care