Monday, July 23, 2012

Tick bites

     Tick bites are common during the warm weather months. The two most common ticks in Ohio are deer and dog ticks -- the deer ticks are smaller and the transmitter of Lyme disease. Dog ticks are larger and do not spread Lyme disease. There is an extensive review of deer ticks here and there is extensive information about management of ticks here. It has been shown to be helpful to take a shower within 2 hours of being outdoors, using DEET insect repellent while outdoors, wearing long sleeves and pants, and do tick checks when back indoors.
     When I practiced in Wisconsin for 2 years, I saw hundreds of ticks that I removed -- at check-ups and sick visits. So many of our families spent a lot of time outdoors and would get dozens and dozens of ticks every year. Although the chances of being exposed to a Lyme disease-carrying tick was thought to be about 1 in 100, I only saw a few cases of Lyme disease. The ticks were probably removed (by a shower or the family removing it at home -- or me doing it in the office!) before they had a chance to feed long enough for the germ to pass to the person. Most the kids who did have Lyme disease had the classic symptoms or Lyme disease arthritis. In that 2 years there, I did not, thankfully, run into any cases of difficult to treat, "bad" Lyme disease. So in a state, such as Ohio, where it is much less likely to get Lyme disease from a deer tick bite, we are very unlikely to see cases of Lyme disease.
     Tick removal is best done with fine-tipped tweezers. This is an excellent guide to tick removal from the CDC. To prevent a skin infection at the site after removing the tick, clean with soap and water or with hydrogen peroxide. Apply a small dab of Neosporin(r) to the site. Watch for redness, drainage, fever, or rash -- see us if this occurs in the next two weeks after you have removed the tick.

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