We do lots of walking across a variety of terrains where we cannot always see whats underfoot. It is only certain infected ticks that bite and are not noticed clinging on to your skin, that usually cause Lyme disease. However, ticks are very small and often do not hurt when they bite. BBC magazine monitor recently featured a timely reminder - click TICK to read it.
It is quite easy to have a tick bite without noticing e.g. on your leg or back. Many people developing symptoms cannot remember being bitten by a tick.
Several organisations offer advice e.g. http://www.tickalert.org/tbe-facts.html
This following is an extract from the website of Patient.Co.Uk and the full article can be read on line by clicking Patient.Co.Uk
Tick Bites and Lyme Disease
Once bacteria are passed from the infected tick into your skin, they then multiply and travel in the bloodstream to other parts of the body to cause symptoms. The parts of the body that are mainly affected by this bacteria are: skin, joints, nerves and heart.
The following will reduce your risk of developing Lyme disease:
- If possible, avoid areas where infected ticks live - particularly in the summer months. When out in the countryside, keep to paths and away from long grass or overgrown vegetation, as ticks crawl up long grass in their search for a feed.
- If living or visiting a tick-prone area, when outdoors wear appropriate clothing. That is: long-sleeved shirts and long trousers tucked into socks. Light-coloured fabrics are useful, as it is easier to see ticks against a light background.
- Inspect your entire body each day to check for ticks and remove any that are on the skin. Make sure that children's head and neck areas, including scalps, are properly checked.
- Consider using a tick repellent spray, cream, etc, on your skin that contains N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET).
- Check that ticks are not brought home on clothes.
- Check that pets do not bring ticks into the home on their fur.
To remove a tick that is attached to your skin:
- Gently grip the tick as close to the point of attachment to the skin as possible. Do this preferably using fine-toothed tweezers or forceps, or a tick removal device.
- Pull steadily upwards, away from the skin. Take care not to crush the tick.
- For a diagram, see: www.lymediseaseaction.org.uk/information/tick_removal.htm
Inexpensive tick removal devices may be available at veterinary surgeries and pet supply shops, and are useful for people who are frequently exposed to ticks. These should be used in accordance with the manufacturers' instructions.
- Burn the tick off (for example, using lighted cigarette ends or match heads).
- Apply petroleum jelly, alcohol, nail varnish remover, or other substances (as this may stimulate the tick to regurgitate potentially infected material into the skin, which may increase the risk of transmission of infection).
- Use your fingers to pull the tick off, and don't squeeze the tick.
After removal, clean the skin with soap and water, or skin disinfectant, and wash hands.