What to do if you get a tick bite?

Ticks are small, blood-sucking bugs. They can range in size from as small as a pin’s head to as large as a pencil eraser. Ticks have eight legs. They belong to the arachnids family (related to spiders). The different kinds of ticks can range in color from shades of brown to reddish brown and black.

Most ticks don't carry diseases, and the majority of tick bites don't cause serious health problems. The sooner ticks are removed, the less likely they are to spread disease. But some ticks may transmit bacteria that cause illnesses, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever or Lyme disease.

The signs of Lyme disease, following a tick bite, may include a red bump and an expanding red rash, which looks like a bull's-eye, while the signs and symptoms of the Rocky Mountain spotted fever may include red dots on the ankles and wrists. Both can be accompanied by flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, fatigue, vomiting, and muscle and joint aches.

If the tick is still attached to the skin, here is what you need to do:

(1) Use tweezers to grasp the tick near its head or mouth and pull gently to remove the whole tick without crushing it.

(2) Pull firmly until the tick lets go of the skin. Do not twist the tick or rock it from side to side.

(3) If possible, put the tick in a recipient and seal it in case you want to have it identified by your doctor.

(4) Wash your hands with soap and water and wash the area around the tick bite and clean it with alcohol.

Contact your doctor if you were not able to completely remove the tick, if you notice any rash around the bite and flu-like symptoms or if you think the bite site is infected. Signs and symptoms include redness or discharge....