How to identify a tick bite



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Are tick bites always noticeable?

Not always. The tick bites to feed on blood and is anchored to the skin by a system of retracted teeth. During the anchoring and suction process, you will inoculate with the saliva a substance with anesthetic components that make the bite virtually painless.

On some occasions it can cause a local reaction with itching and redness of the surrounding skin, it can even be over-infected.

Ticks have a preference for hot and humid areas of the body. For this reason it is important to make a meticulous review of the skin, especially in the folds (English, genital region, armpits, navel) and in areas with more difficult access to one's vision (back of the legs, buttocks, back, scalp, behind the ears etc.)

Can they transmit diseases?

Yes. However, it is important to keep in mind that in different geographical areas the risk of infection will vary, in addition to modifying also the type of disease which can be transmitted>In SpainIn general, the risk of infection is low. Diseases transmitted> A tick test has recently been carried out in Spain, to assess whether they were infected with FHCC. Han s>Do not. Only previously described species can transmit diseases and only if they are infected.


Ticks are very common animals in rural settings, but not so much in cities, where most people can spend their entire lives without crossing one. Until suddenly the little bug sneaks into the frontline of today for being responsible for the first two endemic cases of a disease that had not occurred in our country until now: the Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever. And the questions begin: how do I know if the brand I have is from a tick, and what do I do if I ever bite one?

Crimea-Congo: the 10 things to know about hemorrhagic fever

Ticks are actually mites, the largest that exist, that feed on blood. They live in the countryside, where they are placed in the tall grass waiting for an animal or human being to be hooked to. Once on board, they pierce the skin of their host and begin to feed on their blood until completely filled, something that can take even several days to occur. Then they let go of their 'victim' and continue on their way to the next binge.

What to do before the bite of a tick?

Unlike what happens with insect bites, identifying a tick bite is simple because the animal remains attached to the skin for several hours. For this reason, the procedure to follow must be adequate to remove it and that the complications are minimal. Vicente Baos, family doctor, recommends not trying the extraction at home and let it be a medical professional who does it: "If you bring it to us, we confirm that it is a tick. In addition, the extraction has its technique."

Dermatologist Rosa Tarberner also discourages all kinds of tricks and home remedies (spray with gasoline, petroleum jelly or hydrogen peroxide, burn it with a cigarette or 'unscrew it') and advocates the simplest and most obvious: use tweezers without teeth and pull in the direction perpendicular to the skin, gently, until detached from the tick. "The most advisable thing is to eliminate it by minimizing the trauma that we generate on the parasite, to avoid regurgitation of the digestive tract material, which is associated with a higher rate of infectious complications," Taberner explains in his blog.

How can I avoid it?

  • It is advisable to avoid walk in the field between tall grass or bushes, if possible, better go by the roads.
  • Avoid sitting in areas with a lot of vegetation.
  • It is more advisable to use closed shoes that open, it is also recommended cover the bottom of the pants with the socks to prevent the passage of the tick to the leg, as indicated in the image 1.
  • It is more advisable to use long clothes, especially in the case of pants.
  • The clothes of white or clear color, both for clothing, and for the tolla after the shower, it facilitates the visualization of ticks in case they are detached or traces of blood, in case of being crushed.
  • It is recommended wash with hot water clothing that has been worn on days of possible exposure to ticks.
  • In case of being accompanied by pets you should examine them and remove the ticks if they were presented.

    Are there repellent for ticks?

    The use of repellents with DEET on exposed skin Avoiding the mucous membranes. The higher the concentration, the more durability and effect of the product. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for frequency of application and use. You should know that this repellent is advised against in children under 6 years old. (3)

    In children older than 6 months of age, products with chop> Can be applied 0.5% permethrin Spray on clothes. Permethrin is sold in pharmacies and you should follow the recommendations for its use. It is recommended to apply the spray outdoors and let dry before putting on clothes. The effect will last two or three washes, which will produce a long-term protective effect. (3)

    The use of other devices or methods to avoid tick bites is not advised, as described previously, since they are not validated for use and therefore, their usefulness cannot be assured.

    And if it itches me What do I do?

    As previously mentioned, most tick-borne diseases require the tick to adhere and ingest blood for a few hours for the person to become infected, so it is important remove it as soon as possible.

  • The tick should be removed with some fine tip tweezers, trying to don't crush the body, to avoid ejecting its contents through the point where it is attached to the skin.
  • The tick will be pulled from the point closer to the skin, trying to avoid pressing the body, as indicated in a Picture 2.

  • Avoid the use of traditional measures such as oil, oil or heat, which irritate the tick and can cause it to eject its contents more quickly when contracted.
  • Once caught with the tweezers in the area closest to the skin, gently pull up, avoiding sharp turns and tractions.
  • After extraction, clean the area well with soap and water and use an antiseptic to thoroughly sanitize the bite.
  • Finally wash your hands with soap and water.
  • You must bear in mind that if you submit fever, a skin rash during the four weeks after the bite, or if you have tried to remove the tick, leaving part inside, you must seek medical attention, and tell your doctor when and where the tick got it.
  • He algorithm 1 Explain the steps to follow in case of exposure to ticks.


    In spite of everything, the specialist emphasizes that "there are many tick bites in man", although there are "very few" that generate problems, he insists. "Not always if they bite us, we will develop disease. Only rarely can it be fatal, as happened with the first case of Crimean Congo fever. In addition, every year people die from botanical fever. Although they are often treated better , in spring and summer there are hundreds of bites and that someone dies is exceptional but the case may be the case, "says the expert of the Achievement hospital center.

    In his opinion, sometimes the diagnosis of tick bite is complicated because these, depending on the stage in which they are, can be the size of a tiny moon. In addition, it indicates that the bite is painless, and many times you do not realize that the insect has bitten you, even if for days it eats from you. "When he has already acquired all the livelihood from you, he lets go and goodbye," says Oteo.

    In fact, he points out that it is estimated that about half of the bites go unnoticed and are "very difficult" to identify. "It is necessary the clinical suspicion of the doctor before a certain clinical picture. It is necessary to think that this person has been able to be in contact with ticks if he has gone out to the field, if he has carried out outdoor activities or in areas where there are ticks. everywhere, especially in areas of livestock exploitation, and wild animals such as deer and others. We know that there are more ticks in areas of much fauna, "he adds.

    In any case, in Oteo's opinion it is important that when a doctor suspects that he is suffering from a tick-borne infectious disease, as well as a severe clinical picture, he should not wait until the laboratory confirms him but must establish a treatment sooner. "If you doubt whether the patient has a buttony fever, you don't have to wait because it can be bad for the sick person. You don't have to wait for complications," he adds.

    What is a tick?

    Ticks belong to the arachnid family, which also covers mites, spiders and scorpions. Ticks stick to the skin of animals and feed on their blood. On Earth there are hundreds of different types of ticks, which can be found virtually anywhere. The two types of ticks that most people talk about are deer ticks and the dog tick (or canine tick).

    The deer tick is about the same size as the head of a pin and is found in many parts of the US. One of the diseases transmitted by this type of tick is Lyme disease, especially in New England and the central US plain. (Lyme disease owes its name to the place where it was discovered: Lyme, Connecticut, which is located in New England.)

    Canine ticks abound a lot and can measure up to 1.3 cm (½ inch). If you have a dog, there is a good chance that you have seen one of these ticks in their fur. A disease that can transmit this type of tick is Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

    What does a tick bite look like?

    A person who is bitten by a tick usually does not notice anything at all. You may have a slightly reddened area around the area of ​​the bite.

    If you think a tick has bitten you, tell an adult immediately. Some ticks are carriers of diseases (such as Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever) can spread to people they bite.


    The specialist recommends doing it with tweezers. To do it correctly, it is necessary to have tweezers with the blunt edge, which do not have teeth. Then you have to put the clamp between the head of the tick, which is fixed to the skin. There, the tick is placed at a right angle of 90 degrees and a fine and maintained attraction is carried out. Do not use oil or gasoline, or manipulate with your hand or squeeze because the microorganisms will inoculate us.

    "Most of the time it will develop where it has stung a granite or itchy papule and after a few days or weeks the subject ends there. Only a small percentage can develop a problem. In principle no preventive treatment is indicated, since the risk of developing an infectious disease transmitted by ticks is less than that of developing an allergic reaction to that antibiotic, only in certain cases that the tick has been manipulated a lot or if it creates anxiety for the patient, but it is the doctor who will assess the need for preventive treatment, but it should be the exception and not the rule, "says the head of the department of infectious diseases at the San Pedro de Logroño Hospital.

    What should you do if a tick bites you

    One of your parents or another responsible adult should check if you have any ticks attached to the body when you have been playing or hiking through forests or wooded areas, they should be mostly fixed on the head (including the scalp), the back, the neck, the armpits and the groin area (the English). If you detect a tick in your body, ask an adult for help to remove it. Using tweezers, an adult should grab the tick as close as possible to your skin and pull it with a single movement. Do not cover petroleum jelly ticks, nail polish or any other substance, since these substances do not help to disengage ticks and can complicate things.

    If part of the tick remains attached to your skin, don't worry: it will end up disengaging. But, if you notice any irritation in the area, you should tell your parents. With the tick removed, your parents may want to store it in a small container or airtight bag to show it to the doctor.

    What will the doctor do

    Doctors do not need to treat most tick bites. But, if the tick carries Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever and infects you with any of these diseases, any symptoms of them should be treated with antibiotics. The doctor may want to see the tick in order to make the diagnosis. If these diseases are treated soon, it is very rare that they produce lasting changes in the patient's health.

    How to prevent ticks from biting you

    Ticks love to be among bushes and bushes, where they can stay close to the ground and jump on people or animals that pass by nearby. If you go hiking in the woods or wooded land, wear long sleeves and long pants and put the bottoms of the pants inside the socks. Carrying an insect repellent can also help. Ask your parents to apply one that contains 10% to 30% DEET.

    Dogs are also very good at holding ticks in their fur, so ask an adult to help you bathe your dog with an anti-tick shampoo and also put such a collar on it.

    It's dangerous?

    In the vast majority of cases, the bite of a tick is somewhat harmless, which is treated by applying a disinfectant and avoiding scratching or touching the wound until it is healed.

    Vicente Baos, family doctor, recommends not trying to remove the tick at home and let it be a professional who does it

    However, ticks can also transmit diseases. This is the case in Spain of the two cases of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever that have set off the alarm, but there is another more common pathology in our country, the Mediterranean botanical fever, which "transmit national bugs, they do not need to come from out, "explains Vaos.

    This disease, also called tick typhus, is caused by the bacterium 'Rickettsia conorii', is endemic to many Mediterranean countries and manifests with chills, high fever, headache and photophobia, followed a few days later by a rash of Dark color.

    It is in any case a very rare disease, so Taberner recommends not to apply a treatment just after the bite, but be alert the following days in case any symptoms appear, and then yes, go to the doctor.

    How to avoid avoiding it?

    Contrary to popular belief, ticks cannot jump to their victim to feed on them, they can only catch on their skin through direct contact. So the way to avoid a tick bite is to avoid coming into contact with it. "If you're going to the field, wear long pants, socks and appropriate shoes. Avoid rubbing on bushes or infected animals," Vaos recommends.

    Other bites

    Both Vaos and Taberner warn that it is not easy to identify which bug is a bite if we do not see the animal itself, since each person reacts differently and the redness, inflammation and itching can have different intensities and durations according to our sensitivity . Yes, there are some details that give us clues about who has just put on the boots at our expense.

    In case of getting up one morning full of bites, its distribution is a clue: if they are placed anarchically by our body, or a single member, most likely it was a mosquito. If instead they follow a more linear route or are closer together, it is likely that it is a flea or a bed bug, since they are bugs that walk and do not fly.

    The flea bitesLike ticks, they usually have no more consequences than an annoying itching for a few days, although in children or especially sensitive people, their irritating saliva can cause hives and even small blisters. The Bedbugs They are sometimes an annoying bed partner, who feeds at night and hides in small recesses and cracks during the day, which makes them difficult to eliminate. As Taberner explains, there is currently no evidence that they have a disease transmission role, but their annoying bites can cause irritation and blistering in especially sensitive people.

    It is not easy to identify a sting because each person reacts differently, but there are details that give us clues about the culprit

    The wasp or bee stings They are also normally easy to identify because they usually attack during the day and are very visible animals. In both cases, the result is a hiver that hurts more than itches and swells quickly. It is advisable to extract the stinger with tweezers (only bees leave it) and apply cold to reduce swelling and relieve pain. These insects can cause serious allergic reactions, so if you are allergic, or suspect it may be, see a doctor immediately in case of a bite.

    Another animal that can give us a good scare are spiders. Denoted in general, most of the spiders we can usually find do not bite, and those that do do not cause more discomfort than a wasp. Their bites differ because they have two small red dots in the center, mark of the jaws with which they have just bitten us. In your case, the result hurts more than itches. There are only three dangerous spider species in Spain, although they are not very abundant: the black widow, the brown spider and the European tarantula. If you do not see which spider has bitten you and in the following hours you notice muscle pain, fever or dizziness, see your doctor as a precaution.

    Finally, and although they are not an insect, it is worth mentioning jellyfish stings, very common in the summer months on all the beaches of our country and around which there is also some confusion. Jellyfish sting because their tentacles are provided with cnidocytes, stinging cells with which they hunt and defend themselves. By rubbing our skin, they eject and pass through it, injecting the poison through the dermis. The lesions, however, are usually not serious after the immediate itching and pain, quite acute. As a treatment, Taberner recommends not rubbing the area with sand or the towel, apply vinegar (do not urinate!) And always clean the area with salt water (in case of applying ice, it is through a plastic bag and not directly on the skin)