As the weather warms up and outdoor activities become more enticing, remember that tick season is upon us. Ticks are notorious carriers of Lyme disease, which can cause significant health problems if left untreated. So, before you head outdoors, take preventative measures to keep the ticks away, and know the signs of Lyme disease.
One of the key indicators of Lyme disease is the presence of a bullseye-shaped rash known as erythema migranes. This rash typically (but doesn’t always) appears within three to 30 days after a tick bite and expands over time. Other symptoms may include fatigue, fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, swollen lymph nodes, and even neurological problems if the infection spreads.
To reduce the risk of Lyme disease, take preventive measures when spending time in tick-prone areas:
- Wear protective clothing: When venturing into wooded or grassy areas, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and closed-toe shoes. Tucking pants into socks and wearing a hat can further minimize exposed skin.
- Use insect repellent: Apply an EPA-approved insect repellent that contains at least 20% DEET on exposed skin. For added protection, consider treating clothing with permethrin, which repels and kills ticks.
- Conduct regular tick checks: After spending time outdoors, thoroughly inspect your body and clothing for ticks. Pay special attention to areas such as the scalp, behind the ears, under the arms, and around the waistband.
- Remove ticks promptly: If you find a tick attached to your skin, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. Gently pull upward with steady pressure to remove the entire tick. Clean the area with soap and water and disinfect the tweezers.
If you suspect you may have been bitten by a tick and are experiencing symptoms of Lyme disease, seek medical attention promptly.
Early diagnosis and treatment with antibiotics can effectively manage the infection and prevent complications.