There are several different types of ticks in the United States. Tick bites themselves aren't serious. The main problem with tick bites is the spread of serious diseases:
Tick diseases tend to occur mainly in certain parts of the country. Even in those areas, not all ticks carry disease. Not every bite by a disease-carrying tick will make you sick.
Sometimes you'll see the tick attached to your skin, where it's feeding on your blood. Ticks usually stay attached for a day or two if you don't remove them. The longer they are attached, the more they swell up with blood. After the tick falls off or you remove it, the bite is a small, red, itchy bump.
Actually, the biggest problem is when people get sick but don't know they were bitten by a tick. Then it can be hard for your doctor to know that you have an infection from a tick.
If you know a tick bit you, contact your doctor. What your doctor does depends on how common disease-carrying ticks are where you live. The doctor may just have you watch for signs of infection. Signs include:
If you don't have any rash or symptoms for a month, you likely don't have an infection. However, if you live where infections from ticks are common, the doctor may check you and give you a single dose of an antibiotic.
Things to do:
Things not to do:
To prevent a tick bite when you're outdoors, especially in wooded areas:
Walk in the center of trails and paths to avoid brushing up against bushes and weeds
Avoid sitting on the ground, tree stumps, or stone walls
Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into boots or socks
Wear light-colored clothing so ticks are easier to see
Use an insect repellent containing DEET on your skin and spray your clothes with an insect repellent containing permethrin