Ticks: dangers, protection and treatment
Ticks can transmit serious diseases such as borreliosis (Lyme disease) or meningitis. Unlike what many believe, ticks do not live in and fall out of trees, but at ground level at the edges of woods and paths. They cling to tall grass, ferns, brush and shrubs. As soon as you are close enough to them, they bite into your skin with their chelicerae (“twin saws”) and embed their hypostome (long barbed sword) in the wound. So what should you do?
Disease symptoms and treatment options:
- Borreliosis / Lyme disease: different organs can be affected by this, including skin, joints, nervous system and in rare cases, the heart. The disease can be treated with antibiotics; if left untreated, it can entail permanent disability.
- Early summer meningoencephalitis (FSME) / tick-borne encephalitis (TBE): This infection can lead to meningitis and its course of development is mostly undetected and symptom-free. The course of the disease itself manifests typically in two phases: the initial symptoms are flu-like and second-stage symptoms can include neurological disorders such as headache, sensitivity to bright light, dizziness, concentration problems and impaired walking. Causal treatment is not possible, but there is a highly effective vaccine available.
Treatment in the event of a tick bite:
- Remove tick with a tick remover card or with tick tweezers. For this purpose, get hold of the tick directly at skin surface level and remove it by pulling continuously.
- Disinfect your hands and the puncture site immediately.
- If the chelicerae are then still embedded in the skin, this is not a problem, since the body should shed them after a few days. If this does not occur, you should consult a doctor as a safety precaution. Ideally, note down the date of the bite and the affected site for informing the treating physician.
- Do not throw the tick away after removal, but keep it until everything is okay again. If complications set in later, the tick you have removed can be sent to the doctor.
Preventative protection against ticks:
- Wear closed shoes and preferably close-fitting clothing when out walking.
- Pull the socks over your pants.
- Spray all parts of the body extensively with HEROPIC NATURE Tick repellent.
- Only walk in the middle of paths. Avoid bushes, high gras and brush-wood.
- Systematically search your body for ticks after a hike. Common places to find them are the backs of the knees, the pubic area, the navel, the armpits, the shoulders, nape of the neck and behind the ears. Also, in the case of children, make sure to check their heads.
You can see the risk areas in Switzerland here.