When Should a Tick Bite Be Treated by a Doctor?

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When bitten by a tick, contact the doctor if there is difficulty removing the tick, a rash appears at the bite site, flu-like symptoms develop or the bite site becomes infected, states Mayo Clinic. Seek emergency care when there is a severe headache, difficulty in breathing, paralysis or heart palpitations.

Tick bites are generally harmless, causing only minor pain and injury, says Mayo Clinic. In some cases, ticks cause illnesses like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever by transmission of bacteria. A doctor needs to be contacted if symptoms develop from a tick bite, as these may indicate a serious disease is present. A rash at the bite site accompanied by flu-like symptoms like fever, chills and fatigue can indicate Lyme disease.

If a tick bite is not exhibiting any dangerous symptoms, it can be treated at home, suggests WebMD. Applying ice packs for 15 minutes every hour for 6 hours after the bite can help with pain and itching. Nonprescription antihistamine or anesthetic medicine can also be applied on the bite site to reduce the itch, swelling and pain.

It is important to keep watch for any new symptoms that may develop from one day to three weeks after a tick bite, states WebMD. Tick-related disease symptoms like fever, nausea, vomiting and muscle aches sometimes take longer to appear. Other diseases caused by ticks include tularemia, ehrlichiosis, relapsing fever, Colorado tick fever and babesiosis.