You have a tick bite if you’ve been bitten by a tick. A tick is a small animal of about 1 to 3 millimetres and is often black-brown in colour. They live in forests, shrubs, tall grass, heathland, gardens and parks. Ticks can only crawl. Ticks will bite into your skin. You can see this by the black dot on the skin. The bite can occur anywhere on the body. The tick will usually go for warm, moist places, like your armpit, the back of your knees or in your groin. Children will often get tick bites on the head, behind the ears or on the neck. A tick bite doesn’t hurt, but can cause various symptoms.
Once a tick has bitten into someone, it will suck itself full of blood. A grey or brown-black 1 centimetre ball will form on your skin. A red patch will appear after 3 days. This will usually disappear after a week.
You can remove the tick with tweezers or tick tweezers. Don’t use alcohol, oil, nail polish, soap or any other means to numb the tick. This puts you at a higher risk of becoming infected with the Lyme bacteria. You can remove a tick and look after the bite as follows:
- Use pointed tweezers or tick tweezers. Grab hold of the tick by placing the tweezers as close to your skin as possible.
- Hold the tweezers flush against your skin and carefully pull the tick straight out. Don’t twist the tweezers. Don’t worry if the tick’s head stays in the skin. This will fall out by itself. However, this can cause the wound to become infected.
- Clean the wound with alcohol or iodine. If you don’t have this to hand, wash it well with soap and water.
- Check your entire body for other bites.
Write down the following information:
- The date of the tick bite.
- The place and country where you were.
- The location of the tick bite. Take a picture of it to be on the safe side.
- Keep an eye on the site of the bite for the next 3 months. Spots can still develop around the area during those months.
You should see a doctor if:
- You’re unable to remove the tick yourself.
- You have removed the tick and you think it’s been there for more than 24 hours.
- You’ve been bitten by a tick abroad.
You should also immediately contact your GP if you experience one or more symptoms which correspond to Lyme disease symptoms. These symptoms include:
- A red or blue-red spot around the tick bite.
- A yellowish or bluish spot around the tick bite.
- One of the above spots on a different part of your body.
- A flu-like feeling after the bite. You may suffer from fever, a headache, fatigue and muscle aches. These symptoms can occur a few days later, but even as much as 3 months after the bite.
- Swollen and/or painful joints.
- Radiating pain, tingling or less strength in one or more parts of the body (arm, trunk, legs).
- Double vision.
What can your GP do to prevent Lyme disease?
An average of 2 to 3 out of 100 people bitten by a tick will develop Lyme disease. Do you suspect you may have Lyme disease? Then you can obtain an antibiotics prescription from your GP. This course of antibiotics will only work if you take it within 72 hours of the tick bite. The chance of still contracting Lime disease afterwards is then very small. The antibiotics can cause side effects, like nausea, an allergic reaction, diarrhoea or vomiting.