I Have a Tick Bite! What do I do Now?

Photograph the bite area! Following the discovery of a bite make sure to take pictures of the tick while attached (if possible) and any rashes that may occur. Also keep a record of any symptoms that develop. Many doctors will not treat without evidence of a tick bite. A simple photograph can mean the difference between getting treatment quickly and the disease being allowed to progress.

Remove the tick carefully! Using a tick remover slide implement as close to tick mouth parts as possible and pull, do not twist even if product instructs you to do so. Fine-point tweezers can be used as well. Do not use regular tweezers, which risk damaging the tick. Do not attempt to burn off tick with a match or use Vaseline, soap or rubbing alcohol! If you feel you are unable to remove the tick by yourself, you can go to the ER or have your physician remove it. No matter who removes the tick, do not let the tick be thrown away! Place it in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel and record the date and location found on your body.

Have your tick tested for Lyme and Coinfections! Make sure to have the tick tested for multiple tick-borne illnesses, not just Lyme disease! Doctors will not test ticks so make sure it is not thrown away or taken from you by medical staff. Ticks must be mailed to a tick test center. To get a tick tested go here:

Read & bring a copy of the (ILADS) treatment guidelines to your doctor’s appointment! The International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society diagnostic and treatment guidelines are the most scientifically sound and up-to-date approach to dealing with tick-borne illness and provide recommendations for prophylactic (preventative) treatment. Share a copy with your physician. The guidelines can be downloaded and printed here:

Do not wait for a bulls-eye rash to appear! Many physicians unfamiliar with the complexities of Lyme disease assume that without a bull’s eye rash you are not infected. This is not true. In fact, the general consensus is that only between 30%-60% of patients develop a bull’s eye. A rash can also be easily missed if your bite is in an area not easily seen such as in the hairline, on your back/neck or in the armpit or groin. If you are infected, you may also experience only a generalized rash or no rash at all.

Do not assume it's a spider bite! Bites from spiders quickly become painful, unlike a Lyme rash. Do not let your doctor dismiss your bite! Tick bites can become infected however, so trust your instinct when bitten.

Demand the maximum early preventative treatment allowed! 21 to 30 days of Doxycycline is the most commonly prescribed treatment. This is not always enough! A newly bitten person should be treated for at least the maximum allotted time, whether symptomatic or not to prevent Lyme disease complications. If symptomatic after the first treatment has ended the patient should be treated until they have been free of symptoms for at least 6 weeks. If your doctor refuses to do so, find another doctor who will. For a list of Lyme-literate doctors email: berkshirelyme@yahoo.com

A negative test does not mean that you don’t have Lyme! The current testing is extremely inaccurate, literally the flip of a coin. That means 50% of positive cases go undiagnosed. Lyme disease must be a clinical diagnosis based off symptoms partnered with lab testing, not just based off bloodwork. Even if you aren’t symptomatic your physician should apply the preventative treatment at the very least. No one is advocating overuse of antibiotics! What we are asking is that when bitten by a tick preventative treatment be applied to avoid expensive and hard to treat complications of chronic infection.

Test for Coinfections! Most physicians likely have not even heard about coinfections such Babesia, Bartonella, Anaplasmosis/Ehrlichiosis and numerous others. These diseases are not rare! They also require different tests and sometimes different treatments than Lyme. Symptoms may overlap with Lyme disease and in many cases can lead to confusion. The tests for these infections are also not very accurate and many physicians are unaware that the tests are even available. When bitten by a tick it is important to advocate for coinfection testing as suffering from Lyme with one or more coinfections can lead to a much more difficult to treat illness.

It May be a Herxheimer Reaction! If you are already infected and start on antibiotics you may encounter a side effect of treating your bacterial infection known as a Herxheimer reaction. This reaction occurs when bacteria die and leave detritus and toxins inside the body. Many doctors will automatically assume that this is an allergic reaction to the antibiotic. Do not allow your physician to automatically discontinue antibiotics if you are unsure whether it is an allergic reaction or not. In the case of a medical emergency please seek immediate care from a medical professional. Allergic reactions are a serious situation that have to be dealt with promptly. A Herxheimer reaction will generally take a few days to a week or longer to appear if you are actively infected and is usually noted as an increase in symptom severity whereas an allergic reaction is often noticed not too long after starting antibiotic treatment. For either issue always communicate how you are feeling to your physician and make sure to educate yourself and them about the Herxheimer reaction to help avoid being needlessly removed off of essential preventative treatment. Reaction severity can be reduced by detoxing the body of toxins through such means as taking an Epsom salt bath, drinking alkaline water (warm water with lemon juice), staying well-hydrated in general and through detox teas that contain herbs that help remove toxins from the body.

Always Take Probiotics! One of the biggest risks of any duration of antibiotic therapy is the risk of GI complications. Antibiotics aren’t able to hone in on only the bad bacteria in your body, they instead follow a scorched earth policy and destroy all susceptible bacteria. This can leave you at risk for developing numerous stomach issues, including an overgrowth of yeast known as Candida that can be bad all by itself. Secondly, some antibiotics also can put you at risk for severe stomach infections like C. difficile. To avoid such complications always make sure to take a well-balanced probiotic to help maintain your good intestinal flora. You generally want to go for brands that have numerous strains of probiotics versus just one and that contain billions of active good bacteria in each capsule. Depending on what type of probiotic you are planning to take, you must make sure at least two hours have passed between taking your antibiotics and probiotics. If taken together the antibiotics negate any positive effects the probiotics provide. You can also boost gut health by eating fermented foods, such as kimchi and sauerkraut and through fermented drinks like fresh kombucha.

Educate Yourself! So many people don’t ever get an understanding of tick-borne diseases until they already are infected. Avoid this fate by taking the time to educate yourself, through reading materials such as this and through reputable online sources such as LymeDisease.org, ILADS.org and the Lyme Alliance of the Berkshires website at http://www.berkshirelyme.blogspot.com. Being aware of the potential risks and pitfalls that may arise if you are bitten and require preventative treatment. Your education also can benefit others if you share what you learn.

Be your own advocate! When you have Lyme disease you have to become a doctor, a scientist, a lawyer and an archivist. Keep track of upcoming research and studies as well as new developments in legislation and medical guidelines. Don’t be afraid to take research and treatment information with you to your doctor’s appointments!

Information sourced from:

*Disclaimer*: This information is for educational purposes only
and should not be used in place of seeing a medical professional

You can download this free handout from HERE!

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