What Happens if You Get Bitten by a Tick?

April 5, 2022
tick warning sign in forest

If you’ve been bitten by a tick, take a deep breath! There’s no need to panic. Many tick bites are completely harmless and never lead to notable symptoms or complications. Instead of fretting over any long-term effects, focus on safely removing the tick and calmly watch for any allergic reactions or unusual symptoms.

What to Do if You’re Bitten by a Tick

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following steps if you or someone around you has been bitten by a tick:

  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to clasp the tick as close to the skin as possible.
  2. Slowly but steadily pull the tick upward without twisting or jerking the tweezers.
  3. Once the tick is removed, thoroughly wash your hands and the bite area with soap and water. It’s also a good idea to clean the bite area with rubbing alcohol.
  4. Take a picture of the removed tick and flush it down the toilet, or securely store it in a sealed container if you would like to show it to a healthcare professional.

When to Seek Medical Care

If you live in an area where Lyme disease is common, you may want to consider contacting a medical provider like PhysicianOne Urgent Care to discuss your risk. If not, just watch for these symptoms for 30 days following the tick bite:

  • Headache
  • Rash
  • Muscle pain
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain and swelling

Contact a medical provider if any of these symptoms occur or if you are concerned about your risk for tickborne diseases. You should also seek prompt medical care if you are unable to completely remove the tick with tweezers.

When to Call 911

Rarely, a tick bite can cause a severe allergic reaction. Call 911 immediately if you or someone around you develops:

  • An intense headache
  • Trouble breathing
  • Paralysis
  • Heart palpitations

Possible Complications of Tick Bites

While many tick bites are harmless, some ticks carry bacteria, viruses, or parasites that can lead to tickborne diseases. The most commonly seen tickborne diseases in the United States include:

  • Lyme disease
  • Babesiosis
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
  • Anaplasmosis
  • Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness

Most cases of tickborne illness can be successfully treated with a regimen of antibiotics, especially if they are diagnosed in a timely manner. In other cases, long-term symptoms such as fatigue, muscle pain, and joint pain may occur.

Walk-In Treatment for Non-Emergency Tick Bites

PhysicianOne Urgent Care offers evaluation and treatment for non-life-threatening tick bites. Our knowledgeable clinicians can also help remove stubborn ticks and determine if any bloodwork is necessary to rule out a tickborne illness. And, unlike bustling primary care centers, we’re open during extended hours 365 days per year and welcome adult and pediatric patients on a walk-in basis. We also offer 24/7 telemedicine services if you’re unsure if you need in-person medical treatment and simply want to chat with a healthcare professional about your symptoms.

PhysicianOne Urgent Care is a member of the Urgent Care Association and proudly serves communities throughout Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts. Contact us today at 1-860-650-3848.

Son kissing mother
I wanted to take a moment to thank you for the attention you gave me last week. My son was started on antibiotics and ear drops. Within 24 hours he began to feel better. The poor kid had been going to school in tears because he was afraid of missing any more days, but feeling (and looking) just awful! He's not been able to even think about lacrosse practice, but thanks to starting him on antibiotics, he was thrilled to return to practice today.
Somers, NY
  • 5.0
  • 4.6