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Sure Signs You've Been Bitten By a Tick

How to protect yourself from Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses.

It's one of the risks that come along with the joys of summer: An increased chance of tick-borne disease. In warmer weather, we spend more time in yards, near woods and at campsites—all hotspots for tick bites. According to the CDC, ticks can transmit several disorders by passing bacteria into human skin, including Lyme disease (the most common), Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis and babesiosis. They have similar symptoms and can be treated with antibiotics. But it's key to spot a tick early and remove it promptly. Here's what to look for. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Had COVID and Didn't Know It.  


You Actually See a Tick on Your Skin


Ticks are common in wooded or brushy areas, or places of high grass. If you've spent time in one of these areas, it's a good idea to check your body for ticks as soon as you get home. Check your clothing, pets and gear for signs of ticks. The CDC recommends using a mirror to check your body, including under the arms, in and around the ears, the back of the knees and in and around the hair.


How to Remove a Tick

Female doctor removing a tick with tweezers from hand of patient

If you spot a tick, use tweezers to remove it. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull upward with even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick away, as that can cause parts to break off in the skin. 

After removing the tick, clean your hands and the bite area with soap and water. Dispose of the tick by placing it in a sealed bag or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.


You Develop a Fever

Sick woman with fever checking her temperature with a thermometer at home

If you develop a fever or rash within a week of a tick bite, call your doctor for advice.

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You Have This Kind of Rash

A person, leg bitten by a deer tick

Lyme disease commonly causes a bullseye-shaped rash near the bite site. It can show up between three and 30 days after the bite (the average is seven). It may expand or feel warm to the touch. If you develop this kind of a rash, seek medical attention.


You Have Flulike Symptoms

Woman in pain touching her back while sitting on the couch.

Lyme disease may cause flulike symptoms. In addition to fever, these can include chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes. Call your doctor if you experience them.

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How to Prevent Tick Bites

Tourist spraying insect repellent on her legs and boots

To protect yourself from tick bites and tick-borne diseases like Lyme, the CDC recommends:

  • using insect repellent on your skin and gear 
  • removing ticks promptly
  • applying pesticides to your yard or nearby wooded areas
  • reducing tick habitat by keeping your grass cut and nearby brushy areas trimmed
  • wearing protective clothing when in wooded areas and walking in the center of trails

And to get through life at your healthiest, don't miss: This Supplement Can Raise Your Cancer Risk, Experts Say.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael