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How to Prevent Lyme Disease After a Tick Bite

Picture of a sign warning about ticks in a wooded area.If you spend a considerable amount of time outdoors, you’re likely familiar with the steps you should take to avoid being bitten by a tick. Treating clothing and equipment with permethrin, tucking your pant legs into your socks, and applying a chemical repellent with DEET or picaridin can all help prevent tick bites.

But what if you’ve already been bitten by a tick? Is there anything you can do to reduce your risk of contracting Lyme disease? PhysicianOne Urgent Care has compiled the following tips:

  • Perform regular tick checks. Your risk of acquiring Lyme disease increases the longer a tick is attached to your skin, with infections usually taking place once the tick has been attached for at least 36 hours. With that in mind, it’s important to check yourself for ticks whenever you spend time in a potentially tick-infested area, so that you can remove any attached ticks as soon as possible.
  • Consult with a medical professional. Whether you’ve already removed the tick yourself or you require medical assistance to do so, it’s important to promptly speak with a trained medical provider. They will be able to assess your condition and provide you with customized treatment recommendations.
  • Possibly undergo antibiotic treatment. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that in certain cases, a single dose of the antibiotic doxycycline can reduce the risk of acquiring Lyme disease after a high-risk tick bite. This treatment will be most effective if started within 72 hours after the tick was removed, so it’s important to act quickly.

Many people assume that they’ll need to undergo blood testing immediately after being bitten by a tick to determine whether they contracted Lyme disease. However, blood tests will not begin to come back positive for Lyme disease until approximately two to six weeks after the time of infection.

How to Remove a Tick

As was noted above, because ticks can transmit Lyme disease after being attached to skin for at least 36 hours, it’s important to remove them as quickly as possible. Here’s how to do so:

  • Using a pair of fine tweezers, grasp the tick as close to your skin as you can.
  • Gently pull backwards using steady, firm pressure (without twisting).
  • Be careful to not squeeze or puncture the tick while removing it.
  • Place the tick into a Ziploc bag or a container with a lid so that you can show it to a medical provider, if needed.
  • Once the tick has been removed, wash your hands, the bitemark, and your tweezers using rubbing alcohol or soap and water.

You may have heard advice about using liquid soap, Vaseline, nail polish, kerosene, matches, or cigarettes to remove ticks—never use those methods, since they could actually cause a tick to inject more bodily fluids into your skin.

Tick Bite Treatment Near You

If you’re in Connecticut, Massachusetts, or New York and think you may have been bitten by a tick, you can turn to PhysicianOne Urgent Care. Our network of immediate care centers offers tick removal, bite and rash assessment, and treatment services, all on a walk-in basis. Please feel free to call us at 860-650-3848 if you have any questions.

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