When the weather warms up, people start spending more time outdoors. That's why spring and summer are the most common months for tick bites and tickborne illnesses, such as Lyme disease. Doctors in the Infectious Disease department at Gundersen Health System are specially trained to treat these illnesses.
Ticks are tiny bloodsucking parasites that live in wooded and brushy areas. Some ticks are so small it can be hard to see them. They will often crawl up people's clothing or bodies for several hours before attaching to the skin.
Many species of ticks can transmit disease to people and animals. Tickborne diseases can be caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites. Some of the common diseases include:
There are several steps you can take to keep ticks from attaching to your skin and spreading disease:
- Avoid areas where ticks live
- Use insect repellants with DEET or permethrin (for clothing only)
- Wear long sleeves, pants, and socks
- Tuck pants into socks
- Do tick checks
- Common tick bite areas include: around the belt or bra line, back of the knees, groin area, underarms, ears, in the hair line of the neck
- Carefully remove ticks immediately
- To remove attached ticks, use a tweezers to grab the tick by the head, as close as possible to the skin. A lit match, petroleum jelly, and other methods are not effective and can be harmful.