Very Ignorant Question About Ticks

Updated on June 13, 2013
G.♣. asks from Springfield, IL
14 answers

This morning I took a tick out of my son's back. Fun! I didn't know if there was anything else I should do, so I called my husband (he has more medical knowledge than me, though he's not in the health care field). He pretty much said, "You got it out, right?" Well, yes, but do I need to do anything else? He said that was all I needed to do. I was thinking I should call the doctor or watch for signs of, I don't know what, but something.

It seems like there's a lot of concern in our area right now. I've heard many people say that there are more ticks and to be extra careful and use bug spray and all that. We have a couple of acres and a wooded area on our property, so ticks are going to happen. Also, our 4 year old just loves to play in the trees.

So, my long winded question is, what's the big deal? I get that they are annoying and kind of a pain to get out. My 4 year old had trouble being still why I tried to get the tic out. But what is the concern? Is it Lyme disease? Is there more? Am I just not fulling understanding the situation?

I hate being ignorant of things like this, so I'm just looking for more knowledge.

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So What Happened?

Ok, thanks for the info. I actually know how to get the tick out of my son. If I didn't, I would have asked. But thank you for telling me anyway.

The reason I asked what the big deal is, is because 95% of the cases of Lyme disease occur north and east of Illinois and the chances of getting Lyme disease from a tick bite is less than 3% (as in less than 3% of all tick bites result in Lyme Disease).

Naturally, I thought there must be more to it than just the fear of Lyme disease if the chances of my son getting Lyme disease from a tick that was in his back for less than 12 hours is .15%.

The general consensus on most websites about Lyme Disease is that as long as the tick is removed within 48 hours, there's nothing to be concerned about as the tick does not release anything (toxins?) during the first 36 to 48 hours.

Guess my husband was right. There really isn't anything to be concerned about.

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answers from Boston on

I think you're right. The thing with Lyme disease is that of all the people I know who have it (which is many confirmed and many more suspected), I don't recall any actually saying that they saw and removed the tick that would have caused the disease. The lyme-carrying deer ticks are so small that they go undetected. If it's big enough for you to see and easily pull out, it's probably not a deer tick and therefore other than being gross and annoying is no big deal. I end up pulling at least one tick off of one of my kids each year and several off of the dog. Other than the ickiness of it, I just watch for any signs of infection and then when those don't appear, we forget about it until the next one shows up.

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answers from Portland on

I've heard it's a good idea to identify the tick, or even save it and take it to someone who can identify it. More doctors today know how to identify the smaller deer ticks that carry Lyme disease, because the problem happens almost everywhere in the country now. You can also find pictures online – if it is a deer tick, and if Lyme disease occurs in your area, it would be a good idea to carefully monitor your son for any odd symptoms. Early treatment is much better than delayed treatment, because symptoms can be brutal and persistent. Other infections are also possible. (see sites like or

There's nothing ignorant about your question, but you might want to know that a 'tic' is an involuntary twitch or behavior, not the insect.

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answers from New York on

I don't sweat over ticks. Deer ticks are very tiny tiny little buggers. They are the ones that can cause Lymes disease. You got the tick out. Don't need to do much else. Maybe just keep an eye on the spot. Ticks are just a part of life when you livein the burbs.

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answers from Raleigh on

Lyme Disease and also Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Both can be very serious.
Just look for signs of rash or fever. If those develop, go to the pediatrician or urgent care (if it's a weekend).

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answers from New York on

Yes!! The concern is lyme disease. My parents used to get tics and always have them tested for lyme. (the ticks). Do you still have it? If so, keep it and call a dr and ask if it should be tested. My boss' daughter got one, they didn't keep it and the doctor put her on antibiotics for 2 weeks as a precautionary measure. Lyme is a horrendus disease that doesn'st always show up right away etc. The tell tale sign are rings around the bite but they don't always show up. And testing for lyme later is tricky/controversial.

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answers from Denver on

just research lyme disease and you might be a little more concerned.

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answers from Austin on

The biggest problem is when the tick regurgitates into your son's skin... that is where the bacteria are usually carried....

It is best to pull the tick out with even pressure, by grasping it with tweezers near the head...

don't twist it out...

don't try the home remedies like vaseline, a hot match, or other things... you want to get it out quickly, and some of those methods may cause it to salivate or regurgitate into your skin.

Watch the area closely for rash... or if your son has a fever, contact the doctor.

The diseases that are carried by ticks now are really nasty... Lyme disease, and MANY others...

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answers from Washington DC on

You need to make sure you got it all out...the head and all.

I would save the tick and have it tested for Lyme Disease.

If your son develops a rash, swelling, fever, etc. take him and tick you removed from him to the doctor and have him tested for Lyme disease.

you can use peanut butter (it will "smother" it and will force them to pull their head out). If you use tweezers, make sure they are sanitized and you pull the HEAD OUT - that means get those tweezers to touch the skin - not pinch the skin - but low enough to get the head. Remove SLOWLY - once the tick is removed? Clean the area with alcohol.

If you use peanut butter - use about 1 teaspoon to fully cover the tick - then wait about 5 minutes - use tweezers to remove completely.

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answers from Miami on

Ticks can make a person very sick. I saw a thing on TV about someone being SO very sick that they thought they wouldn't make it. The doctor happened to find a tick in the person's ear. Removing it and treating the patient saved their life.

Lyme's Disease is pretty awful. You can't believe how sick someone can be for a very long time. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is also scary.

I'd take your son to the doctor, really. And now that you know you have ticks in your area, change what you put on him when he goes out into the woods. Research what works to help prevent ticks from getting on him.

It's okay to not know. But knowledge is power and you need to get the knowledge so that you don't have ongoing physical illnesses with your son.

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answers from Los Angeles on

My wife and I always checked our kids for ticks during the flea and tick season. I found that if I put rubbing alcohol around my ankles or the awful shaving lotion the kids used to give me for Father's day around my ankles, it kept the ticks off.

Good luck to you and yours.



answers from Oklahoma City on

Wow, I guess my friend that got Lyme disease in Oklahoma last year was not supposed to get

She had a tiny tick on her back. They said it happened in just a few hours. They pulled it out just fine. She got tested a few days later when she got really sick and it was positive. She was sick for over 2 months.

The moral of this story is that even though statistics say one thing that doesn't mean the other percent doesn't happen. Even you said he had a 15% chance of getting sick. I wouldn't want to take a chance on it and I'd spray the kids down with bug spray and douse the yard with some sevin dust.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Look for a rash over the next 2 weeks - especially a ring around where the tick was. A rash associated with Lyme often looks like a bulls-eye.


answers from Jacksonville on

Sorry if I repeat, but yes, it is due to the illnesses that they can be a vector for. There is a whole slew of diseases they can transmit. The variety your son might have been exposed to depends upon the variety of tick (and there are several types of those... depending upon what part of the country you live in).

Best practice is to "save" the tick. Typically, after removing it gently with tweezers I drop it into a small ziploc bag and add alcohol to preserve it. Then I apply neosporin to the bite area. Even if they do not transmit any diseases (lyme, etc)--and those may not show up immediately---the bite itself could still become infected since the skin has been opened.

I typically retain the tick for about 2 weeks. If, during that time, your child exhibits any signs of illness, then you still have the tick if you need to have it tested to see if it carried any disease.

Lyme disease is but one. (and the one that sometimes produces a red ring around the bite area, although the red ring doesn't appear until days later).
Many are insidious, in that the symptoms are similar to those of many other potential causes, and do not appear immediately. Some can have no symptoms appear, but still cause damage, and no symptoms appear until there are serious problems.

There are other serious illnesses:
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
and more, again, depending upon where you live and what kind of tick it was.

In any reading I have ever done on ticks, I seem to find that everything says that there is rarely any transmission of disease until the tick has been attached for over 12 hours (most things actually said 24 hours). So if you are certain of when he picked up the tick, then you may be able to relax a bit. If you cannot pinpoint when he was first possibly exposed, then keep an eye on him for signs of illness that might be related.

This one has specific information to the ticks found in Illinois:

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