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Definition Return to top
Ticks are small, insect-like creatures that live in woods and fields. They attach to you as you brush past bushes, plants, and grass. Once on you, ticks often move to a warm, moist location, like the armpits, groin, and hair. They typically attach firmly to your skin and begin to draw blood for their meal. This process is painless and most people will not notice the bite.
Ticks can be fairly large -- about the size of a pencil eraser -- or so small that they are almost impossible to see. Ticks can cause a variety of health conditions ranging from harmless to serious.
See also: Tick bites
Symptoms Return to top
While most ticks do not carry diseases, some ticks can cause:
Watch for the symptoms of these diseases in the weeks following a tick bite:
Watch for a red spot or rash starting at the location of the bite.
The tick itself can cause paralysis in humans (called tick paralysis). Symptoms include:
DO NOT Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your doctor if you have not been able to remove the entire tick. Also call if in the days following a tick bite you develop:
Call 911 if you have any signs of:
First Aid Return to top
If a tick is attached to you, follow these steps to remove it:
Prevention Return to top
After returning home:
References Return to top
Bolgiano EB, Sexton J. Tick-borne illnesses. In: Marx J, ed. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier;2006:chap 132.Update Date: 3/17/2009 Updated by: Jatin M. Vyas, PhD, MD, Instructor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.