Tick Bites - Topic Overview
are small spiderlike animals (arachnids) that
bite to fasten themselves onto the skin and feed on blood. Ticks live in the
fur and feathers of many birds and animals. Tick bites occur most often during
early spring to late summer and in areas where there are many wild animals and
Most ticks do not carry diseases, and most tick bites do not
cause serious health problems. But it is important to remove a tick as soon as
you find it. Removing the tick's body helps you avoid diseases the tick may
pass on during feeding. Removing the tick's head helps prevent an infection in
the skin where it bit you. See the Home Treatment section of this topic for the
best way to remove a tick.
Usually, removing the tick, washing the
site of the bite, and watching for signs of illness are all that is needed.
When you have a tick bite, it is important to determine whether you need a
tetanus shot to prevent
Some people may have an
allergic reaction to a tick bite. This reaction may be mild, with a few
annoying symptoms. In rare cases, a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) may occur.
Many of the
diseases ticks carry cause flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, nausea,
vomiting, and muscle aches. Symptoms may begin from 1 day to 3 weeks after the
tick bite. Sometimes a rash or sore appears along with the flu-like symptoms.
Common tick-borne diseases include:
Tick paralysis is a rare problem that may occur after
a tick bite. In some parts of the world, tick bites may cause other tick-borne
diseases, such as
South African tick-bite fever.
Check Your Symptoms section to decide if and when you should see a