Tick bites can be very dangerous if they have bacteria and transmit them. For this reason, it is important to pay attention to the symptoms caused by their bites, to know if they have stung you or not.
Ticks are small, insect-like creatures that are actually mites, also known as iodides. In fact, they are considered the largest mites. There are essentially two widely recognized families: the Iodize family, also known as “hard” ticks, and the Argasidae family, also known as “soft” ticks. In the case of the former, there is no doubt that they are the most ‘popular’, because they tend to attack humans, as well as other mammals.
Ticks are usually found in tall grass, more specifically on the edge of a leaf, where they lie in wait, trying to latch onto any passing animal. Far from what is mistakenly thought, ticks do not move by jumping, but in fact the only possible transmission method is direct contact.
When the tick ‘sticks’ to the host’s body, it gradually moves to those places that are warmer and more humid, such as the hair, armpits and groin. Once there, they use their chelicerae (pointed appendages) to pierce the skin and start sucking blood. Then its body tends to swell as it feeds, so it secretes a kind of glue with which it sticks to the host to continue feeding as much as possible.
Are tick bites dangerous?
Although we must bear in mind that most tick bites are harmless, it is known that through their bites they can spread a species of bacteria known as Borelliburgdorferi, which in turn causes Lyme disease.
This disease causes nervous system disorders (among which we can mention meningitis or encephalitis), heart disorders and arthritis, as well as damage to the kidney, liver and adrenal glands. For this reason, it is necessary for this disease to be treated quickly, since around 20% of patients who even receive immediate medical treatment suffer complications.
They can also transmit other diseases, such as:
- Tularemia – Infection caused by the bacteria Francis Ellatularemia that can cause infection of the bone and sac around the heart, pneumonia, and meningitis.
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever – Caused by the bacterium Rickettsia, it can cause brain damage, clotting problems, failure (heart, kidney, and lung), meningitis, lung inflammation, and shock.
- Colorado tick fever – Caused by the bite of the Dermacentor Andersontick, it tends to go away on its own and isn’t as dangerous. However, possible complications include encephalitis, aseptic meningitis, and hemorrhagic fever.
Therefore, tick bites tend to be dangerous when they carry bacteria. Although it is true that, for the most part, ticks tend not to transmit diseases.
Symptoms of a tick bite
There are different symptoms related, above all, to the problems that result from the tick bite itself, so we must keep in mind what the symptoms of the bite are, and what are those caused by diseases transmitted by ticks:
- Tick bite symptoms: Swelling and severe pain at the bite site (some species) that may last for several weeks, weakness, rashes, and blisters. It can also cause shortness of breath or stopped breathing, weakness, and uncoordinated movements.
- Symptoms of diseases transmitted by tick bites : joint or muscle pain, headache, chills and fever, swollen lymph nodes, stiff neck and red spots or outbreaks that start at the site of the bite. These symptoms are very similar to those caused by the flu, so if we know that a tick has bitten us, we should pay attention to the symptoms that may appear in the following weeks.
How is the treatment to follow?
Medical treatment can only be prescribed by a doctor, since it includes, for example, the prescription of antibiotics (to treat infection), antihistamines (to reduce inflammation and itching), local anesthesia (to reduce pain) and steroids. For topical use (to reduce itching and redness).
However, at home it is possible to apply ice to reduce swelling, pain and itching. To do this, put ice in a plastic bag and crush it well. Then wrap it in a cloth or towel and apply it to the bite area, leaving it on for 20 minutes every hour.