Tick bites can be dangerous. Photo: Butch – Fotolia.com
The tick, which in Germany is 90% of the common wood tick, which in its three stages of development larva, nymph and adult animal each requires a blood meal. It gets its blood from mice, dogs and also humans, for example. The bite of the tick itself is not dangerous, however ticks can transmit dangerous diseases. The most dangerous ticks for humans in Germany are the early summer meningoencephalitis (FSME, a form of meningitis) and Lyme disease.
1. Do you live in a risk area?
TBE occurs predominantly in southern Germany. Vaccination against TBE is recommended for all people living in the affected areas, as there is no causal treatment once the disease has broken out. In 70-90% of infected people, the pathogen goes unnoticed, severe courses of the disease often heal completely, but neurological disorders may remain, 1-2% of adults with meningitis die from it.
Nationwide, approx. 35 % of ticks are infected with Borrelia bacteria. However, Lyme disease is not necessarily always transmitted, but the likelihood increases the longer the tick sucks. There is no vaccination against Lyme disease, but it can be treated with antibiotics, especially in the early stages. If left untreated, there is a risk of lifelong chronic joint inflammation or neurological disorders.
2. Avoid tick bites
Since ticks are mainly found in bushes and high grass, these areas should be avoided if possible. Long pants, preferably tucked into the bottom of your socks, and sturdy shoes when walking will slow the tick down. Tick repellent sprays are only effective for a short time. Must be renewed frequently. After spending time outdoors, it is best to wash your clothes at 60 °C or leave them in the tumble dryer for a while.
Search yourself, preferably each other, thoroughly. Ticks prefer warm, moist areas of the body with good blood circulation, such as the armpits, groin, hairline, pubic area and belly button, and sometimes wander for hours in clothing or on the body.
Proper removal of a tick – Be sure to avoid squeezing the tick. Photo: Schutterstock.com
3. Remove a bitten tick correctly
First of all: stay calm! A tick bite does not necessarily lead to a disease. It is important to remove the tick quickly and gently. Hands off home remedies such as glue, oil or nail polish – these only cause the tick to empty its stomach contents, along with any pathogens, into the wound. Also clockwise or counterclockwise rotations often lead to the breaking off of the mouthparts and to inflammations.
4. Take your time to remove the tick
Using pointed tweezers, tick forceps or tick card, grasp the tick as close as possible to the surface of your own skin, avoid squeezing too hard and slowly pull the tick out of the skin. This can take up to a minute. In general, it is recommended to note the date and place of the bite, and the location of the tick if possible. also to photograph it and wait to see if symptoms appear.
5. The doctor can help
For those who are not confident in removing it themselves, or if the head of the tick remains in the skin, a medical professional can be called in to help. It is essential to see a doctor if you notice a reddening around the bite, the so-called wandering redness, or if you observe flu-like symptoms or joint pain.