Tick bites: First aid in emergencies

As temperatures rise, ticks become more active. Tick bites are not only annoying; they can sometimes be very dangerous. How do I properly remove ticks, and when should I see a doctor?

What is it?

What is a tick bite?

Tick bites are not painful, which is why they often go unnoticed, so it is important to check your whole body after being outdoors and search your clothes for ticks. You should check your armpits, neck and behind your knees and bends of the elbows extra carefully, because ticks like warm and moist places. It is important to catch ticks and remove them early on, because the longer the tick is attached, the more likely it is for pathogens to be transmitted from ticks to humans. 

Carriers of infectious diseases

Ticks can carry two different diseases that can be transmitted to humans: Lyme disease (borreliosis) and tick-borne encephalitis (TBE, meningoencephalitis).

Lyme disease is the most common disease transmitted by ticks. Lyme disease can usually be treated with antibiotics if it is caught early. If left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to chronic conditions. TBE is also very dangerous and, at worst, can develop into life-threatening meningitis. 

What to do?

How do I remove a tick properly?

The tick should be quickly and carefully removed after it is discovered:

  1. Position tweezers closely against the skin, around the tick (there are also special tick removal tweezers available).
  2. Try to grasp the tick with the tweezers as close to the head as possible and take care not to squeeze the rear section of the tick.
  3. Pull the tick gently upward and away from the skin.
  4. Place the tick in a small, closed container (for analysis in case you begin to have disease symptoms later) and disinfect the spot around the bite. Keep an eye on the bite for the next several days and weeks. 
When to see a doctor?

When should I see a doctor?

Most tick bites do not require seeing a doctor. If the following symptoms occur, you should definitely see a doctor:

  • The tick could not be removed properly or parts of it remain stuck in the wound.
  • There is a large reddened area around the bite.
  • You notice flu-like symptoms two to three weeks after a tick bite.
  • You have a headache two to four days after a tick bite.