Summer is almost here, and warmer days will mean more time spent outdoors. But there’s a hidden danger lurking in the tall grass and under the canopies of trees, where popular activities like hiking, camping, swimming and so much more take place. Ticks that carry Lyme disease are a significant concern during the warmer months, such as summer and a good portion of the fall.
In Maryland and surrounding states, Lyme disease is primarily spread by the black-legged tick or deer tick and is commonly found on white-tailed deer that are prolific here. These ticks can transmit the Lyme-causing Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, causing symptoms like fatigue, fever, headache, and more. Left untreated, Lyme disease can impact a person’s heart, nervous system, and joints.
Fortunately, there is typically a widow of 36-48 hours after being bitten before humans can contract the illness. That means checking yourself and your children for ticks after spending time outdoors is paramount. And knowing the signs of Lyme disease is critical so that you can be treated as soon as possible if and when it is necessary.
What Are the Signs of Lyme Disease?
Early signs of Lyme disease include flu-like symptoms, including:
- Muscle and joint pain
Everyone has likely heard about the telltale bullseye rash that can occur after a tick bite. This typically shows up anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks after a tick bite occurs. But it doesn’t necessarily appear with every instance, making your due diligence so much more important.
Paying Attention is the Key to Prevention
Early detection is the best way to avoid complications from a tick bite. Removal within two days of attachment is widely considered to keep the risk of infection low.
- Choose your recreational spaces carefully. Grassy areas, bushes, and thickets of trees are popular hangouts for ticks. Avoid them when possible. Keep to marked or paved trails and use insect repellant with a DEET concentration of 20% or more. (Follow directions carefully and help children with the application, avoiding the eyes and the mouth.)
- Wear protective clothing: Avoiding a tick’s natural habitat is the best prevention, but, again, eliminating summer fun outdoors is a huge sacrifice to make for complete peace of mind regarding a tick bite. So, instead, make sure to cover yourself. High-top shoes or boots, long pants tucked into socks, long sleeves, hats, and gloves – these are your best bets for warding off blood-sucking intruders.
- Examine everyone after an outing. After being outdoors, closely check yourself, your children, and your pets for ticks. They’re awfully small, so be sure to conduct a thorough search. Showering after being outside is always a good idea, as it can wash away ticks that have not yet latched onto your skin. Ticks are fond of warm, moist, and hair-covered areas – the scalp, under the arms, and even the insides of the thighs are common hiding spots.
- Get help. Removing a tick ASAP is important. Using tweezers, grip the tick close to the head and pull steadily, being careful not to squeeze or crush the pest. If you are unable to remove a tick on your own, do not force things. Go to your local urgent care or ER and have a professional assist you.
The staff at Quality First Urgent Care can help with tick removal should it be necessary this summer or fall, and our doctors can help you rule out any signs of Lyme disease. Our offices are open daily, and our wait times are short.