WESTPORT, Conn. -- With warmer temperatures and increased outdoor activities, Westport Urgent Care’s Dr. Deborah Mogelof says people need to exercise caution to protect against bites from ticks and other insects.
Mogelof said that taking preventative measures is the best way to avoid ticks. Her tips include:
- Wear pants with socks, which should go over the bottoms of pants. Closed shoes are also important.
- Use insect repellents with 20 percent or more DEET. Anything with greater than 50 percent is not generally more effective, though. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 10-30 percent DEET in children older than two months. With children, use the minimal amount and apply it yourself. Do not put these products on children’s hands.
- Avoid tick infested areas – generally wooded areas with high grass.
- Check thoroughly for ticks and other bug bites after being in tick infested areas. Showering within two hours of being in tick infested areas also reduces the risk of tick born illnesses.
Still, sometimes bites are unavoidable, so it's important to recognize the signs and symptoms of Lyme Disease.
“The first sign is often, but not always, a circular rash that appears as a target at the site of the tick bite,’’ Dr. Mogelof said. “It is usually blanching, which is a temporary whitening of the skin, and it’s usually not itchy or painful. About 80 percent of cases have this as a first sign, though sometimes it can go unnoticed if it is faint or in a place that’s hard to see, like under the arm or in the scalp. People may also complain of flu-like symptoms – headache, fever, body aches, swollen lymph nodes – as first symptoms.”
Mogelof said most cases of Lyme Disease occur between the months of May through September. Unfortunately, unlike mosquito bites, however, there is no specific time of day that individuals are more likely to get bitten.
A tick bite might not be evident for a few days, Mogelof said. “Usually a tick needs to be embedded on someone for 36-48 hours to spread the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease,’’ she said. “So on average, people become symptomatic anywhere between 3-30 days after a bite. This is the incubation period of the illness.”
If a tick is embedded, it needs to be removed in its entirety. Mogelof recommends using tweezers, grabbing the tick near the skin and pulling the insect up with a firm motion. If you are unsure if the entire tick has been removed, or need assistance removing it, Mogelof said Westport Urgent Care can help.
Mogelof said even if a tick bite has already occurred, a quick trip to Westport Urgent Care, which is open seven days a week, is worth the effort. “Westport Urgent Care physicians are very experienced in recognizing the symptoms of Lyme disease and how to test and treat it. It is walk-in with minimal wait times. Patients are usually in and out within 30 minutes.” Mogelof warned that when left untreated, Lyme Disease can lead to life threatening and life-long debilitating consequences.
If you have any concerns about an insect bite or possible tick born illness symptoms, visit Westport Urgent Care for evaluation. More information is also available on the Westport Urgent Care website .