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Tips For Preventing and Identifying Tick-Borne Illnesses Like Lyme Disease

Ticked Off! Stop Lyme Disease Before It Happens

The long Memorial Day weekend is the official start of camping season. And while hanging in the woodsy outdoors is fun, it increases the risk of being bit by a tick and contracting Lyme disease and other types of tick-borne infections, like Rocky Mountain spotted fever or tularemia. Blacklegged ticks (aka deer ticks), lone star ticks, and American dog ticks are all on the list of things you don't want touching your body.

The first step in protecting yourself is to keep ticks off of you. Wear bug repellent and protective clothing that covers the majority of your skin. Whenever you leave a woodland area, give yourself a tick check — wearing light-colored clothing will make it easier to spot any bugs on you.

Find out how to remove a tick from your body and spot symptoms of Lyme disease when you

.

If you've been bitten, use tweezers to remove the tick. Do not smother the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly and don't use a hot match. You want to avoid crushing the tick to ensure that the disease-causing bacterium stays inside the tick's body. Pull the entire tick out — mouthparts and all — and wash the area with soapy warm water. The chance of contracting anything is pretty low if If you get the tick out within 24 hours of being bitten. Bitten or not, always seek medical attention if you have any strange symptoms while camping, or after you get home.

Here are the most common symptoms associated with Lyme disease:

If left untreated, the infection can spread to the joints, heart, and nervous system, causing painful symptoms and loss of muscle tone on one or both sides of the face (called Bell's palsy). A lab test will determine if you have Lyme disease, and a few weeks of antibiotics will successfully treat the infection.


Image Source: Getty
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Lymeadvocate Lymeadvocate 5 years
Thank you for helping to raise awareness of Lyme. I've battled it for 5 years and it is extremely difficult to get rid of if you aren't diagnosed correctly right away (w/in two or three weeks), and if you don't get adequate treatment with antibiotics. I just wanted to add that people need to know how unreliable most Lyme tests are. A negative result doesn't necessarily mean you don't have Lyme -- it is a stealth bacteria which can hide from your immune system. If you get tested, please choose IGeneX lab in Palo Alto, CA. It is well-known for being the best, and having the most sensitive Lyme tests. Your local doctor may not know anything about Lyme, and most people see an average of more than a dozen doctors before they can actually get a correct diagnosis and get help. Thanks again for this article, you're doing a great service. A reliable resource on Lyme is: http://www.lyme-disease-research-database.com/lyme_disease_blog_files/trust-lyme-doctor.html
Berzerker Berzerker 5 years
My Grandma used to tell me about how she had to remove a tick once and she used the match trick. Back then it was believed tweezers were the wrong option - I guess the theory went that the tweezers could pop the monster's head off. Well, back then they also thought cranberries caused cancer, and a bunch of other crazy shit I don't care to prattle on about.
inlove23 inlove23 5 years
My boyfriend has this two summers ago, it was terrible! He looked like he was dying =( He now has arthritis from it. Lyme Disease is a scary thing.
julieulie julieulie 8 years
Just for the record, you DO NOT ALWAYS have the rash as a sign of lyme disease. I worked at an outdoor camp as a horseback riding instructor all through high school and part of college, and came down with lyme disease. Since I never had the rash or ANY of the symptoms, it went unnoticed for four years, when I started developing joint problems and memory loss. Multiple rheumatologists and neurologists later, I was finally diagnosed with late-stage lyme disease, complete with irreversible memory loss, concentration problems, and some cardiac problems. That said, it's definitely not the end of the world and hardly affects my day-to-day life, so I personally think it is ridiculous how much people over-react with fears of tick bites, especially since most people are lucky enough to catch it early and it can be easily cured with a few weeks of antibiotics.
invazngirl invazngirl 8 years
now i'm freaking out. i always get bug bites. i had bells palsy liek 2 years ago, and now i keep thinking i have like super untreated lyme's disease. and to add to that, i woke up with the worst pain in my right shoulder/neck and it's still hurting and i've never hurt like this before....
pinklady8287 pinklady8287 8 years
I had this...it was awful. I didn't even know it because the "bull's eye" rash was on the back of my knee and I just assumed it was a bug bite or something. Be extra careful!
mwmsjuly19 mwmsjuly19 8 years
Yeesh. And ouch.
JBlondie JBlondie 8 years
I had a co-worker that got Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever from a tick when she was pregnant and almost lost the baby. Now the baby has a very weakened immune system. Strange...yucky ticks!
cravinsugar cravinsugar 8 years
oh and get this. theo nly reason i jknew to go to the doctor, I was at girl scout camp, and someone's dad was a doctor. they wre talking about it and i went home you know. the next day i saw it, told my mom what i heard, she called the ask a nurse line, and they said yes you need to go to doc that's what it is. hehe, my good memroy has served me well even from a young age.
cravinsugar cravinsugar 8 years
I had that rash before. They calso say it looks like a "bull's Eye" If you notice you see a samller red ring in the middle of the larger one. If you hve it, don't freak out, but go to the doc immediately. I tested border line for lyme's disease, they gave me antibiotics ofr like 6 weeks or something, i went back and i tested negative. Tics TOTALLY freak me out now though. *shiver*
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