Ambush in the undergrowth
Spring is when we all start to think about getting out into nature, but be alert for an ambush.
Enjoying long walks in the forest or out across open heath land is a great way to spend time and breathe fresh air.
However, lurking in the undergrowth there is a tiny eight-legged creature waiting to ambush you and your pets.
The tick is a parasite looking to latch onto a nice healthy blood supply for a meal and they love warm moist bodies.
As you walk through the bracken, they will attach themselves to you, often making their way to scalp, armpits or groin areas.
Once they’ve found their ideal “camp site”, they’ll bite into your skin, injecting a type of local anaesthetic, so you probably won’t feel a thing, then start to feed.
Because they’ll have chosen their feeding ground well, you probably won’t notice them for some time and that’s when the real danger occurs.
Ticks carry a bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi which causes Lyme Disease, this usually enters the host after the tick has been attached between 36 and 48 hours.
Lyme Disease is an infectious disease and in its early stages causes, tiredness and fatigue. It can make you feel sick, produce muscle and joint pain with a high temperature, chills and neck stiffness.
Once established, after 3 to 30 days, the site of the bite will develop a distinctive circular “bullseye” rash.
Joints will become swollen and painful; the limbs and extremities feel numb and the facial muscles can become paralysed.
Over time, people who have developed Lyme Disease, may well have heart and memory problems.
This is why it’s important to identify tick bites early and get appropriate treatment.
What can you do if bitten?
As with all first aid, start with your own protection, put on disposable gloves, if you’re treating someone else, you’ll be in contact with blood.
Your best way to remove a tick is with a special tick removal tool, this will disengage the tick without leaving any mouth-parts in the bite site.
By sliding the tool under the tick from the side like a claw hammer removing a nail until it’s held securely.
Lift it slightly away from the skin and twist the tool 2 or 3 rotations, either way, until the tick detaches itself.
If you don’t have a tick removal tool you can use fine tipped tweezers.
Gently grip the tick as close to the skin as possible and very slowly pull the tick upwards. Don’t crush the tick, or you’ll leave head and mouth-parts embedded, which can cause infection.
Once the tick’s removed disinfect the site of the bite well.
If the site remains red and swollen seek medical advice for treatment.
Never use a cigarette or flame to remove a tick.
How to protect yourself from tick bites
If you’re planning to walk in long grass, bracken or in forest and heath land.
- Don’t wear shorts
- Tuck trousers into socks
- Stick to footpaths rather than walking through long vegetation
- Brush down your clothes
- Consider using an insect repellent
- Check yourself when you shower at the end of the day. Especially, under the arms, in and around the ears, in the tummy button, backs of knees, in and around the hair, between your legs and around the waist.
- Find out more by attending an Outdoor Activity First Aid Course