Deer ticks are parasitic arachnids that attach themselves on a host, which can be a bird or a mammal, and feed on its blood. Deer ticks can bite humans as well, and even though their bite is painless and generally harmless, if the tick is infected, it can transmit a serious disease, like Lyme disease, relapsing fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever and ehrlichiosis.
Symptoms of deer tick bite
Contrary to popular belief, deer ticks do not jump on their host. They usually wait on tree branches or in high grass, and when the host passes by, they fall or grab onto the host and find a suitable place for feeding. Ticks prefer dark and moist areas of the body like groins, armpits, skin folds and such.
The mouth of a deer tick is shaped like a harpoon that plunges into the skin and holds firmly. As long as the tick is feeding, it will inject saliva containing a mild painkiller substance, so the host will not be aware of its presence.
The skin around the bite site will slightly turn red and it may itch, although in many cases tick bites cause no sensation at all. Therefore, there are no specific symptoms of a deer tick bite, at least not until it is pulled out. When a person finds a tick attached to his or her body, they need to remove it as soon as possible.
How to remove a deer tick
It is important to be cautious when removing a tick, although it definitely should be removed immediately. Some say that the tick should be yanked out but this is wrong because its body can break and the head, with the harpoon, can stay inside the skin, leaking contagious saliva into the body.
Pouring different liquids on the tick is not recommended either, because some of them can make the tick sick so it vomits toxic substances into the body.
The best thing to do is to have it removed by a doctor or a nurse, but those who decide to remove it on their own should be very careful to hold the tick with tweezers and slowly pull it out, without twisting.
Complications of deer tick bites
After the tick is removed, the site may appear similar to a mosquito bite, with slight redness, swelling, with a red bump with a tiny hole in the center, which can itch or cause mild pain.
Some deer ticks are infected and they can transmit the diseases mentioned above. If the mark from the bite persists for several days, if the redness and swelling increases and if there are any systemic symptoms which may indicate one of those diseases, it is highly recommended to see a doctor.