Tick Bite FAQs

Protecting your family from tick bites is very important. Ticks often are infected with bacteria and when one attaches to our skin, those germs can be spread to us through the bite. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pennsylvania is in the top five states for Lyme disease with one in 2 adult ticks being infected with the bacteria that causes it. Lyme disease can cause a range of symptoms from rash, fever, and flu-like symptoms to more severe ones. Although most people recover completely with appropriate antibiotic treatment knowing what to do to prevent bites or infection is better.

Chances are if you and your family are outdoors, especially during the warmer months, you will come in contact with a tick, so explore the FAQs below to learn more:

How can I prevent tick bites?

  • Always protect you and your family from ticks before going outside. The assumption is that ticks are most prominent in the summer months, but they can be found anytime the temperature gets above 30 degrees.
  • Apply DEET to help repel ticks. If you are not comfortable applying DEET directly to your child's skin, you can apply it to his or her clothing. Be sure to spray your shoes and socks.
  • When hiking in the woods or high grass areas, wear long clothing and tuck the ends of your pants into your socks.
  • When you come back inside, immediately perform tick checks. Ticks like to hide, so be sure to check the buttocks, hairline and behind the ears.
  • Remember, ticks crawl and can be carried into the house on clothing. Launder dirty or damp clothing immediately and place in dryer to avoid risk of ticks

How do I remove a tick?

  1. Using fine-tipped tweezers, grab the tick as close as you can to the skin’s surface.
  2. Don’t twist or jerk the tick. Just pull upward with steady, even pressure.
  3. Tiny deer ticks may need to be scraped off the skin with a fingernail or credit card edge.
  4. If a small piece of the head remains, the body’s immune system will take care of what is still there.
  5. Don’t traumatize the skin too much, as this can increase the risk for infection.
  6. If the tick is attached to a sensitive part of the body, e.g., the genitals, and not easily removeable, please contact your pediatrician to be seen in the office within 24 hours.
  7. Once removed, clean the bite first and then wash your hands with soap and water. Next, apply rubbing alcohol and one dose of antibiotic ointment on the area.
  8. Dispose of the live tick by flushing it down the toilet, placing it in a sealed bag or container, wrapping it tightly in tape or submerging it in alcohol.
  9. If you are unable to remove it or have questions about the bite, contact your pediatrician to be seen within 24 hours.

Do home remedies help to remove a tick?

No, home remedies – such as covering the tick in petroleum jelly, nail polish, a soapy cotton ball or rubbing alcohol – do not work to remove a tick. Some people suggest touching the tick with a hot or cold object will cause the tick to release its bite; however, this is not true either.

Once I remove a tick, what do I do next?

Once you have successfully removed be sure to properly clean the area. Please contact your pediatrician if you believe the deer tick was attached to your child for more than 36 hours or your child is experiencing symptoms such as:

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Severe headache
  • Droopy face or crooked smile
  • The bite area appears to look infected

If you know the deer tick was attached for less than 36 hours, we suggest you monitor your child closely for the next 2-4 weeks for any of the symptoms listed above.

If you are unsure for how long the tick was attached, were unable to remove the tick completely or your child is experiencing any of the symptoms noted above, please contact your pediatrician.

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is caused by a bite from infected blacklegged ticks. Here are early and late signs of Lyme disease to look out for:

  • Early signs and symptoms include sore muscles and joints, fever, headache, chills, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes and an expanded rash that looks like a "bull's-eye."
  • Later signs and symptoms include facial paralysis (droop in one or both sides of the face or loss of muscle tone), neck stiffness and severe headaches, additional rashes on the body, heart palpitations, severe pains, short-term memory loss, dizziness, and shortness of breath.

Contact your pediatrician if your child is experiencing these symptoms.

How likely is Lyme disease to occur from a tick bite?

The risk of Lyme disease after a deer tick bite is low. Even in a high-risk area, the risk is about 2%.

Is it true that if you’re diagnosed with Lyme disease, you’ll have it forever?

No, this is not true. Those who are diagnosed with Lyme disease in its early stages and are treated with antibiotics usually recover fully and quickly. Those who are treated for Lyme disease in its later stages respond well to antibiotics, too, but some may suffer from long-term damage to the nervous system or joints.

Remember, the earlier you are detected and are treated for Lyme disease, the better, so be sure to always check yourself and your children for ticks and contact your health care provider immediately if you notice any signs or symptoms of Lyme disease.

How can I create a tick-free zone in my yard?

It is impossible to be tick-free, so it is important to always use caution. You can, however, make your yard safer through these tips:

  • Place a 3-ft wide barrier of gravel or wood chips between lawns and wooded areas and around play equipment and patios.
  • Cut grass and rake leaves frequently.
  • Place playground equipment, decks, and patios in a sunny area instead of by trees or yard edges.
  • Ticks like to hide, so remove any old furniture, mattresses, or trash from your yard.
  • Consider using a professional pesticide company to apply pesticides in your yard.
  • Remember – ticks can be found anywhere outdoors, since they can be carried not only by deer but small animals like chipmunks and mice too.