When hiking or having a picnic outdoors, you’re likely to see any number of bugs and pests, but some encounters can be more concerning than others.

Cases of tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease are rising in the U.S., making it more important than ever for anyone enjoying the great outdoors to exercise caution.

Infected ticks usually spread disease-causing bacteria through their bite, so you’re not at risk if you haven’t been bitten. Even so, tick bites may be painless, and you may not know that you’ve been bitten. For this reason, it’s crucial to understand what to do when you spot a tick on your body.

If you spot a tick crawling on your skin or clothing

Firstly, stay calm. If you panic, you may reflexively swat and crush it, which isn’t recommended. It’s best to avoid touching the tick with your bare hands. You can pick it up using tweezers or gloves and place it in a sealable bag or container.

If you spot one tick, there’s always a chance that there may be more that you can’t see. Check your clothes and body quickly, or run a lint roller with adhesive paper over your body to pick up any tough-to-spot critters.

Ticks can be tiny and can quickly crawl into your hair, groin, belly button, or other areas, so when you’re back home, take your clothes off and check your body for ticks once again.

You’ll want to shower as soon as possible; showering may help wash off any other unattached ticks.

If the tick is attached to your skin

When you find a tick that’s already latched on to your body, it’s important to act fast. The longer the tick remains attached, the higher your risk of contracting tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease.

Use a pointed-tip tweezer to firmly grasp the tick close to your skin’s surface and pull upward using steady pressure. You may have to use more force than you think, but don’t twist or use a jerky motion, as this may cause the body to break away while the head remains in the skin. You want to try and remove the tick completely. These days you can buy special tools and tweezers that help you remove ticks effectively.

Once the tick is off your skin, bag it and immediately clean the affected area with rubbing alcohol or antiseptic.

It’s recommended that you send the tick to a lab so you know what diseases the tick was carrying. You may also want to monitor the bite to see if a rash forms (though this may not be the case for everyone).

You may need medical attention if you’ve been bitten by a tick. Consider seeing a doctor or visiting an urgent care clinic immediately. You can find 24 hour urgent care through a reputed telehealth service provider.

The bottom line

When you find an unattached tick on your body, the most important thing is to trap it safely and have it tested if possible. On the other hand, if you find an attached tick, focus on removing it safely and effectively with a tweezer or tick removal tool.

In the days following a bite, focus on documenting any symptoms you may experience and discuss them with your doctor as soon as possible.

Common services provided by urgent care centers include in-person & virtual care for ear infections, cold and flu symptoms, physical examination, and more.

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