Quick Tick Tips from Galbraith Family Medicine, LLC

  • Tick season is May through September.  Most ticks are harmless, but deer ticks (about the size of a sesame seed) are a source of worry for people because of the possibility of getting Lyme disease from them.
  • The risk for getting Lyme disease is LOW!  In Maine in 2021, there were only 1,508 cases of the disease, which means that there were only 109.9 cases of Lyme disease for every 100,000 Mainers! This is up 35% from 2020.
  • It is extremely unlikely to get Lyme disease from a tick that has been attached to the skin for less than 48 hours.
  • If you get a tick bite…
    • Remove the tick with a pair of fine-pointed tweezers by grasping the tick as close to the skin as possible and pulling steadily upward until the tick is out.  If a “part” of the tick is left behind, you can either leave it there (the body will push it out) or try to remove it as you would a splinter.  DO NOT DIG!
    • DO NOT use Vaseline, nail polish, kerosene or matches to remove a tick.
    • Clean the bite area with warm water and soap then apply a topical antibiotic.
    • Watch the area for the next month for a red rash that gets bigger in size and begins to clear in the center, looking like a “bulls-eye,” especially if you also have flu-like symptoms like fever and body aches with it.  Let your medical provider know if these occur. It is NORMAL to have some redness and irritation immediately around the bite for several days to weeks.
  • Blood tests for Lyme disease are NOT recommended routinely because if everyone bitten by a tick were tested, most of the positive results would be in people who did not actually have Lyme disease (this is called a “false positive” result).  Testing is done in certain specific circumstances when the suspicion for Lyme disease is high based on the clinical history and physical exam.
  • Antibiotics are NOT recommended “as a precaution” because of the low risk of disease and the high risk of problems from the antibiotics themselves, especially because treating actual Lyme disease requires 14-21 days of treatment. There is a small subset of people who should receive a single dose of doxycycline as a precaution and these would be a proven deer tick species in a highly endemic area of the state, known to have been embedded in the skin for more than 36 hours, and only if the patient presents for care within 72 hours of removal of the tick.
  • PREVENTION is everything; keep the ticks away…
    • Wear long sleeves and long pants outdoors in areas where ticks may be found. 
    • Tuck your pants into your socks.
    • Wear light colored clothing to more easily see a tick on you.
    • Use DEET or other insect repellent.
    • Inspect yourself daily for ticks and remove them promptly.
Galbraith Family Medicine Practice

Galbraith Family Medicine Practice