What to know about Lyme Disease this tick season

See a doctor immediately if you develop a rash with a target-like appearance or develop a fever within a month of being bit by a tick.

Author: Liz Kovac

Ticks thrive in grassy and wooded areas and are most active during the spring and fall seasons. “Tick bites can lead to Lyme Disease,” said Dr. DiGiovanni, family medicine physician at McLaren Lapeer Region – Brown City Health Center. “If diagnosed early, Lyme Disease can be treated through medication. However, if it goes untreated, it can lead to serious health issues.”

Signs and symptoms of Lyme Disease:

Lyme Disease is caused by bacteria transmitted by ticks that can affect the skin, nervous system, heart, and/or joints. Though the disease can spread from tick to person, it does not spread from person to person.

Early symptoms of Lyme Disease:

"If you develop a rash with a target-like appearance or develop a fever within three to 30 days after a tick bite, see a doctor immediately," said DiGiovanni. "If a tick bite goes unnoticed and untreated for a longer period, you can develop more severe symptoms which merit urgent treatment."

Later symptoms of Lyme Disease:

Talk with your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Severe headaches and neck stiffness
  • Rashes appearing over the body
  • Facial palsy
  • Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling
  • Pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dizziness or shortness of breath
  • Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling the hands or feet

If you experience these symptoms, your doctor will order a blood test to determine if you have Lyme Disease.

To avoid ticks and Lyme Disease, make sure to take these precautions while enjoying the outdoors this season.

How to avoid being bit by a tick:

When out in grassy or wooded areas, it's important to keep your skin covered.

  • Wear light-colored, protective clothing
  • Tuck pant legs into socks
  • Wear a head covering, like a baseball cap when under low-branched trees
  • Avoid tall, unmaintained grass
  • Move firewood piles and birdfeeders away from your house

If you choose to use pesticides to deter ticks, DEET has been found to be an affective main ingredient in tick pesticides. Be sure to follow label use and safety directions when using.

How to remove a tick:

The tick removal process is the same whether you find a tick on yourself or your pet.

After being outdoors, always do a full-body check to see if a tick is present. If you find that a tick has latched on to your skin, here's what to do...

  • Use tweezers and lightly grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible. DO NOT squeeze.
  • Pull the tick upward with steady pressure. To ensure the ticks is removed in-tact, do not twist or jerk the tick.
  • After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.

"If you are unable to remove the tick or prefer someone else to remove it, visit your primary care provider," said DiGiovanni.

How to dispose of a removed tick:

Since ticks can carry harmful bacteria, it is important that you DO NOT squash a tick once you have removed it from skin. Instead:

  • Put it in over an inch of rubbing alcohol
  • Put it in a sealed container/bag and throw in the trash
  • Flush it down the toilet

Click here for answers to frequently asked questions about Lyme Disease.

If you need a physician referral, call (810) 667-5714.