Health.com—November 4, 2014
Taking a hike is a great way to de-stress and get some exercise in, but this time of year, you might come home carrying an unwelcome visitor: a tick. Nope, the little buggers don’t go away completely in chilly weather.
The good news is that there are fewer active immature stage nymphs in the fall, says Anne R. Bass, MD, associate attending physician at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, and a Lyme disease specialist. Nymphs are tiny, about the size of a poppy seed, and thus easier to miss on your body. Tick larvae hatch from eggs, pick up Lyme bacteria from feeding on mice, and then turn into a nymph the following spring, ready to wreak havoc by spreading the disease.
That said, any tick of any size any time of year is scary: You just never know what it might be carrying. Getting rid of a tick is straightforward, but you have to do it right—without freaking out. If you find one, keep calm and follow these rules for safe removal and disposal. Plus, learn what to do once the tick is out.
The longer a tick is attached to your body, the more likely it is to transmit Lyme disease bacteria. A tick must be attached to your body for 24 hours to transmit Lyme disease-causing bacteria.
Disinfect the area before you pull it out
Ticks connect to your skin using a little straw-like structure near its mouth called the hypostome. "If that breaks, germs will spill into the hole in your skin," Mather says. Rubbing alcohol can help disinfect the area in case the bug happens to split apart when you pull it out.
Use pointy tweezers
The immature nymph ticks can be as small as a poppy seed, and the adult stage ticks aren't much bigger, according to the TickEncounter Resource Center. The same tweezers you use to shape your brows probably aren't the best for pulling one out because they have thick, slanted edges. Instead, you need a pair with fine, pointed edges to really grab hold of the sucker.
Lastly, don't panic if you do show symptoms. Most diseases spread by ticks can be treated with antibiotics, especially if you begin treatment shortly after symptoms start.
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