Tick Bite? Here’s What to Do Next.

April 02, 2024

How to Treat and Prevent Tick Bites

As the temperature slowly increases so too does the tick population. Those pesky insects can transmit serious illnesses to you and your family. But fear not! We’re here to provide you with a Tick Treatment and Prevention Guide for these warmer months! 

You’ve Been Bit – Now What? 

Ticks are crafty little critters. Even if you do everything right, they can still find a way to get you. Use our step-by-step guide to take action and prevent disease.  

1. Act Fast! Remove the Tick as Soon as Possible 

You have a much higher chance of getting sick the longer the tick is there, so you should get rid of it as soon as you notice the bite. 

Find a clean pair of fine-tip tweezers and grab the tick as close to the surface of the skin as you can and pull up to remove it. Avoid jerking or twisting – this can cause the mouth parts to break off, creating a whole host of problems you don’t need. 

If you manage to remove the tick within 24 hours, kudos to you; you’ve significantly reduced your chances of getting sick. 

2. Kill It, Toss It or Flush It 

Disposing of the tick is just as important as removing it. You can place it in a small amount of alcohol to kill it, put it in a sealed container and bin it, or simply flush it down the toilet. 

3. Clean the Bite to Keep Infection Away 

After you’ve gotten rid of the tick, you’ll need to clean the bite area to help prevent infection. Rubbing alcohol is your best bet, but a little soap and water work just as well. 

4. Treat Yourself to an Ice Pack 

Don’t worry if you notice a little redness or swelling around the bite area. That’s perfectly normal! If it happens, simply place an ice pack there for 15 to 20 minutes to help reduce irritation.  

If you have any itching or swelling that lingers for just a little too long, some calamine lotion or anti-histamines should do the trick. 

5. Give Your Doctor a Call 

Let your doctor know any time you get a tick bite, even if you don’t have any worrying symptoms. Try to remember when and where it happened so they can help you decide if you need further treatment.  

It’s especially important to let your doctor know of the following, since these could be signs of something more serious: 

  • Fever 
  • Chills 
  • New rash 
  • Headache 
  • Fatigue 
  • Joint pain 
  • Swelling 
  • Bull’s eye rash 

If you do get a tick-borne illness, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics such as prophylaxis to help prevent Lyme disease. One way or the other, you’ll be back on the path to full health in no time. 

Avoid Getting Bit!  

This is the best and safest way to avoid Lyme disease and other serious tick illnesses.  

Most of us know ticks like to hang out in the woods or in tall grasses, but they aren’t all that picky; they love anywhere it’s warm, humid and shady.  

For us New Englanders, that means we especially need to be on guard in places like the Connecticut River Valley, Cape Cod and the islands. If you live near any of these areas – or spend your summers soaking up the coastal sun – you’ll need to take a few extra steps to keep you and your family safe: 

  • Wear light-colored clothing: This makes it easy to spot ticks crawling on your clothes. 
  • Apply bug repellent: Make sure to use brands that contain DEET. 

Be Ready if You’re Hitting the Trails 

No one gets excited for spring quite like New England hikers. Whether you’re hitting the Whites in New Hampshire, the Greens in Vermont or even just Blue Hills on the South Shore, you’ll need to make sure you’re protected from ticks.  

  • Stay on main trails and try to keep to the center of the path. 
  • Wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants tucked into your socks to limit skin exposure. 

After you get home, make sure you check yourself (and your kids and pets). You can find a tick anywhere, but they have their favorite spots; ticks are especially drawn to the areas around the groin, behind the knees and near the ankles, so make sure to double (and triple!) check those places. 

Newsletter Sign Up

Subscribe to our monthly Healthy Communities newsletter and get the latest health and wellness information delivered right to your inbox.

By providing your email address, you agree to receive emails from Beth Israel Lahey Health. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Subscribe to Healthy Communities

Terms & Conditions*