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General & Seasonal News

Ticks and Lyme disease: how to prevent, check for, and remove ticks

By 24th May 2024No Comments

As the bank holiday and warmer weather approach, people naturally want to get outside and stretch their legs. While such exercise is important, Sirona care & health is urging people to be tick aware and take action to prevent being bitten by ticks, as they can carry serious diseases.

“Ticks are more common at this time of year, and the arrival of spring often brings people out to countryside areas for walks and other outdoor activities. Since ticks tend to live in long grass and woodland areas, this can increase the risk of getting bitten,” says Ashleigh Taylor, Place-based Urgent Care Manager for Sirona care & health.

The simplest and best way to combat ticks, Ashleigh says, is to prevent being bitten in the first place. “If you’re out walking in the countryside, or your kids are playing in long grass, this spring or summer, be sure to cover up: wear long trousers tucked into your socks and long sleeves to protect your skin from exposure to ticks.”

He continues: “Try to stick to clear paths, wear insect repellent – preferably ones containing deet – and wear light-coloured clothing so any ticks are easier to see and brush off.”

“After a walk, check yourself, your kids, and your pets for ticks. Because ticks like the warmth, warm areas like your armpits and groin are common hotspots for ticks to attach themselves.”

If you spot a tick, remove it as soon as possible using a tick removal tool, which can usually be found in pet shops, vets, and online and then kept in your first-aid kit.

“Slide the head of the removal tool around the tick, making sure to grip the tick as close to your skin as possible – this will ensure you get hold of the tick’s entire body,” Ashleigh says. “Twist the remover tool slowly clockwise to unwind the tick; as you do this, steadily and gently pull the tick away from your skin – this should ensure the whole tick is removed. Wash the tick down the plughole and then wash your skin with soap and water, then apply antiseptic cream to the skin around the bite.”

You should not need to seek medical attention unless you develop the following symptoms within three months:

  • A bullseye rash around where you were bitten
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • A facial droop
  • Nerve pains and numbness
  • Tingling in the hands or feet

If you do develop any of these after a tick bite, it could be a sign of Lyme disease, so contact your GP or call NHS 111 promptly.

Lyme disease is carried by approximately 4 per cent of ticks in England and Wales. It is treatable with antibiotics, but if left untreated the infection can spread to affect the nervous system, joints, or the heart.

Ashleigh said: “While ticks can carry serious disease, they are easy to prevent and can be removed safely by anyone. Remember: buy a tick remover now, cover up, check yourself, then twist ticks out and monitor for symptoms.”