How to protect yourself from a tick bite and what to do if it has already bitten you

Probably the most important material in anticipation of mass trips to the forest and cottages. Olga Malinovskaya, the doctor of clinical laboratory diagnostics and the medical director of the KDL laboratory network, tells how to protect yourself from a tick bite as much as possible and where to run after a bite to find out if you are infected or not.

How to protect yourself from a tick bite and what to do if it has already bitten you

Olga Malinovskaya

- Ticks have an amazing ability to suck. Their body consists of two main systems: the digestive system and the reproductive system. The body when filling with blood can increase several times.

The usual tick development cycle is an egg and three stages of maturity (larva, nymph and mature tick). In each stage, the tick needs to be nourished once for 3-10 days. The organism of these arachnids has developed a huge number of mechanisms of adaptation to adverse conditions. Lack of food or relatively bad weather conditions do not kill immature forms, but translate them into a “standby mode” of better times - a tick can remain viable for about two years in a hungry state. Moreover, the tick’s immune system has adapted to coexist with pathogens of many diseases - tick-borne encephalitis, borreliosis, pyroplasmosis, and ehrlichiosis.

How to protect yourself from a tick bite and what to do if it has already bitten you

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Ticks live in forests and parks (including urban ones), especially a lot of them near water bodies. They usually climb tall grass or bushes and wait. Once on human clothing or animal hair, the mites instinctively rush up, after which they find a place with thin skin, closely spaced vessels and suck on. A tick can be found in the folds of the inguinal region, behind the ears, on the scalp and neck.

Traces of a bite are manifested in reddening of the skin around the suction site. The wound is not always visible. Although the bite is painless, if the tick sucked for more than a day and increased significantly in volume, it can cause some uncomfortable sensations on the skin - the desire to scratch the bite or mild soreness.

Ticks are primarily associated with tick-borne encephalitis. This serious disease affects the central nervous system.

They can be infected in many regions of Siberia and the Far East. If you intend to travel to these regions, it is better to get vaccinated in advance. However, in the Moscow region, of the Leningrad, Tver, Yaroslavl and Kaliningrad regions, a collision with ticks more often threatens borreliosis (Lyme disease). The insidiousness of this infection is that at the first stage it can be easily confused with the usual viral disease: the temperature rises, stiffness and pain in the muscles may appear, and specific skin phenomena are often noticeable. If you do not pay attention to it, complications can affect the cardiovascular and nervous system.

More borreliosis can cause joint damage.

The entry of borrelia into the human body can be suspected by specific skin reaction around the site of suction - the so-called migratory erythema (severe redness of the skin. - Approx. ed. ), which is a change in the skin around the site of the tick bite.

Usually it looks like redness of the skin increasing in diameter or as a reddish ring diverging from the site of the bite. It should be noted that this symptom does not appear in 100% of cases. According to recent studies by domestic scientists, about 50% of infections can occur without the formation of erythrem - they are caused by a special kind of borrelia.

Borreliosis is treated with antibiotics. Without proper therapy, an infection can cause severe complications to the joints, cardiovascular and nervous systems.

If borrelia is ingested, erythema and local tenderness at the site of the bite can be felt within 3-30 days, but on average the symptoms appear after a week. Other signs may be absent or resemble a commonplace SARS. During this period, the use of antibiotics is most effective.

How to protect yourself from a tick bite and what to do if it has already bitten you

Photo: shutterstock. com

If there is no soreness and redness (with non-erythema forms), borreliosis can be diagnosed only at the stage of damage to the nervous or cardiovascular systems.

In this case, myalgia (muscle pain. - Approx. Ed. ), neuralgia (damage to a particular nerve. - Approx.

Ed. ), or heart rhythm disturbance appears. Such phenomena can occur from a few weeks to several months after infection. During this period, it is difficult for a doctor to diagnose borreliosis - a tick bite by this time passes. Patients turn to a neurologist or cardiologist, but screening for antibodies is most often not done.

In the period from several months to several years after infection, late manifestations of the disease develop: arthritis of large joints, polyneuropathy (simultaneous damage to various peripheral nerves. - Approx. Ed. ) and memory disorders.

The probability of infection with borreliosis is largely determined by the time of tick suction.

Rapid detection and removal of the tick reduces this risk. But if the tick was found only after a day or later, there is a very high probability of transmission. Ticks can last from one to ten days on the human body, and it is impossible to determine the degree of satiety of the parasite on the eye.

How to protect yourself from a tick bite and what to do if it has already bitten you

Photo: shutterstock. com

If you find yourself biting a tick, you must carefully remove it.

This can be done with special devices from a pharmacy or veterinary store. Animal mite extraction tools can also be used for humans. It is undesirable to sharply tear the tick away from the body - the proboscis may remain in the skin.

After that, you must go to the laboratory. Pass the extracted tick for analysis for infection, while checking it yourself.

The results will suggest the direction of preventive prevention. The fact of human infection is confirmed by a blood test for antibodies. Antibody testing should be carried out 10-14 days after the bite and later, as well as with suspected infection with borreliosis with symptoms of damage to the nervous system, heart and joints. With late manifestations of the disease, a more informative diagnostic method may be not just an analysis for antibodies (immunoglobulins M and G to Borrelia), but an immunoblot: an extended examination method with the detection of antibodies to different proteins of different types of borrelia. The importance of accurate diagnosis in the late manifestations of borreliosis cannot be overestimated - the prognosis for the treatment of Lyme disease at any stage is favorable.

If borreliosis is detected or there is a suspicion of the possibility of transmission of tick-borne encephalitis, you should immediately seek medical help.

How to protect yourself from a tick bite and what to do if it has already bitten you

Photo: shutterstock. com

  • You should only go to the forest or to the park in closed clothes, with long sleeves, in trousers, while the cuffs should fit to the body. It is better to choose clothes in bright colors. Against a dark background, it is difficult to discern a parasite that has climbed onto clothes.

  • It is necessary to wear a hat, at least a hood.
  • Clothing and skin should be treated with special mites.
  • It is necessary to constantly - at least once every half an hour - inspect and check open areas of the body.
  • In the summer cottages located near the forests, it is possible to carry out acaricidal treatment.
  • After returning from a walk, you need to examine the skin: pay special attention to the folds of the skin (inguinal folds, under the knees, behind the ears, under the breasts of women) and the scalp.

    The tick is easiest to remove until it is firmly stuck. In this case, the probability of transmission is minimal.

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