Health and Beauty

10 myths about ticks and true facts

Ah, spring! Flowers bloom, birds sing, and the long-awaited first rays of sun appear. But with the heat our friends are coming back too Ticks. You know, those little creatures that stick to our skin and feed on our blood. They are known for their ability to transmit various diseases, the most famous of which is undoubtedly Lyme disease. But what do we really know about these little creatures? What are the myths and facts surrounding ticks? This is what we will discover together in this article.

Understanding ticks

What is a tick?

Ticks are mites, cousins ​​of spiders. They spend most of their lives waiting patiently on low plants, detecting carbon dioxide and heat from a potential host. Contrary to popular belief, ticks cannot jump. They simply climb on their host when it passes by.

Their size ranges from 1 to 5 millimeters, depending on their age and stage of development. They are found worldwide and can infect a wide range of hosts, including humans, pets and wildlife.

Tick ​​life cycle

The tick life cycle includes four stages: egg, larva, nymph, and adult. At each stage, except the egg, the tick needs to feed on blood to move to the next stage. Once the tick becomes an adult, it feeds one last time before laying eggs and dying.

Lyme disease: how to detect it?
Video source © Le Monde – YouTube

10 false beliefs

Myth 1: Summer is tick season

forged. While it is true that ticks are most active during the warmer months, they can be present and active throughout the year, depending on weather conditions. Some types of ticks are more active in the spring and fall, when temperatures are more moderate. In addition, some types of ticks can also be active during the winter, once the temperature rises above 4°C.

Therefore, it is important to take appropriate preventive measures and check your body regularly after going to areas where ticks are present, regardless of the time of year.

Myth 2: Ticks are only found in the forest

forged. They are found not only in shrubs, but also in grassy areas, parks and even urban areas. In fact, as their host communities expand, ticks are increasingly found near urban centers.

They prefer areas with dense vegetation, such as shrubs and tall grass, where they can wait in ambush for the host.

Myth 3: Ticks can jump or fly

forged. Contrary to popular belief, ticks do not jump or fly to reach their host. They cling to plants with their hind legs and extend their front legs to grab a passing host.

The tick bite is poorly removed from human symptoms
Image rights © Adobe Stock

Myth 4: All ticks are infected with Lyme disease

forged. Not all ticks are infected with Lyme disease. Some ticks may not be infected at all, while others may carry a variety of less common diseases in addition to Lyme disease.

For example, blacklegged ticks can also transmit babesiosis and Powassan virus. Dog ticks are known vectors of Rocky Mountain fever and tularemia. Both types of ticks can also transmit anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis.

Myth 5: Tick bites are painful

forged. A tick bite is usually painless and may go unnoticed. This is because these parasites contain anesthetic substances in their saliva that numb the skin around the bite area. This allows the tick to feed on blood without being detected. Therefore, most people do not feel the tick sting or bite when it occurs.

Myth 6: It only takes one bite to contract the disease

forged. To transmit the disease, the tick must be placed for between 36 and 48 hours(1)This depends on the tick and the disease it transmits. In addition, it is estimated that in high-risk areas, less than 3%(2) Tick ​​bites cause Lyme disease.

Myth 7: A heat source can remove ticks

forged. The best way to remove a tick is to use tweezers, hold the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull it out slowly without twisting. Using a heat source such as a burning match can be dangerous and may cause the infected tick to expel saliva into the bite, increasing the risk of infection.

Myth 8: Ticks burrow under the skin

forged. The tick feeds until it is full and then falls off. studies(3) Show that the duration of a retail facility is focused on the duration of a full day (24, 48, 72, or 96 hours). The area around the bite may begin to swell around the tick's head, but the tick does not burrow under the skin.

Myth 9: Ticks can lay eggs under the skin

forged. Ticks do not lay their eggs under the host's skin. They feed on blood, and once engorged, they separate to lay their eggs in the environment.

Hair sign
Image rights © Adobe Stock

Myth 10: It is possible to kill ticks with water

forged. Contrary to popular belief, ticks can survive in water for long periods of time. Some species of ticks are even known for their ability to survive and remain active in moist environments. When a tick is exposed to water, it can enter a state of dormancy, which reduces its metabolic activity and allows it to survive longer. Therefore, it is possible for the tick to remain attached to its host after swimming or submerging in water.

Transmitted diseases

Ticks can transmit a variety of diseases, not just Lyme disease. The following is a non-exhaustive list:

Types of ticks Common names Transmitted diseases
Ipoda scapularis Deer tick Borreliosis or Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis
Pacific Ixodes Blacklegged tick Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis
American amblyopia Asterisk Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever
Dermacentor variants American dog tick or wood tick Rocky Mountain spotted fever
Ribocephalus haematobium Blood mark East Coast Fever
Haemaphysalis longicornis Asian longhorned tick Tropical theileriasis
Ixodes ricinus Sheep tick (this is the most common tick in France) Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis
Ambellium cagenense Cayenne sign Rickettsiosis
Ornithodorus hermetic Soft sign fever
Ixodes persulcatus Taiga tick or hard tick Tick-borne encephalitis, Lyme disease, and babesiosis

Lyme disease is a zoonotic disease known for its erythema migrans or target-shaped rash, but this symptom is only present in 70 to 80% of those infected. Other variations of the rash may include uniform, scaly, or purplish-blue skin lesions. Because the bacteria spread through the bloodstream, these rashes may appear in other parts of the body, away from the site of the bite.

Target area: arm bite erythema
Erythema after a tick bite on the back of the arm.
Image rights © Adobe Stock

Instead of relying on the presence of a rash, a more accurate way to detect the disease is to check for several early symptoms after a tick bite. Symptoms such as fever, joint pain, muscle pain, fatigue and headache usually begin three to 30 days after the bite.

Prevent bites

Prevention remains the best protection against ticks. Insect repellents such as DEET, Icaridin, Natrapel, or EBAAP, long-sleeved clothing and pants, and comprehensive tick controls on ourselves and our pets can help prevent exposure to tick infections while allowing us to enjoy the outdoors.

Be careful, ticks are able to attach to any part of their host's body, including areas that are difficult to detect. It is commonly thought that ticks are mainly found on large areas of the body, such as the legs or arms, but it is also possible for them to attach themselves in less obvious places. Ticks can crawl into the groin folds, armpits, behind the ears, scalp, navel, and other warm, moist areas of the body. It is therefore important to carefully examine the entire body, including the less visible areas

If the tick remains attached for more than 24 hours, it is recommended to see a doctor. People who are treated with appropriate antibiotics, either prophylactically or when symptoms appear, usually recover quickly and completely.(4).

What to do if bitten?

If you discover ticks on yourself or a loved one, a calm and methodical approach is essential. To remove a tick, it is recommended to use tweezers to gently grasp the insect as close to the skin as possible, then remove it by gently rotating it and pulling it upwards.

Tweezers or tick forceps purchased from pharmacies avoid pressure on the abdomen of the tick and prevent tearing of the part fixed in the skin.(5). This advice again aims to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases. Squeezing or crushing a tick through the abdomen can expel stomach contents and saliva, including toxins, allergens and pathogens, into the site of the bite, although this has never been proven.

And indeed a study(6) On gerbils showed that the removal method had no effect on pathogen transmission, even when the ticks were squeezed intensively for 3 minutes before removal. Only the duration of fixation had a significant effect on pathogen transmission.

Get the tick tweezers delivered

Amazon Affiliate Link. Prices mentioned in this article are indicative and subject to change.

Once the tick is removed, it is necessary to thoroughly clean and disinfect the bite area. It is also important to carefully monitor possible symptoms of Lyme disease or other tick-borne diseases. If in doubt, consult your doctor.

Skin Tick Bite Removal Guide
Image rights © Adobe Stock

What to remember

A tick bite can be worrying, but don't panic. Prevention remains the best way to protect yourself from ticks. Using insect repellent, wearing long-sleeved clothing and pants, and carefully checking ourselves and our pets for ticks helps prevent exposure to ticks, while allowing us to fully enjoy our outdoor activities.

(tags for translation)Understanding Ticks
10 myths about ticks and true facts

زر الذهاب إلى الأعلى