How Do I Recognize a Deer Tick Bite?

Deer ticks are arachnids that are commonly found in heavily wooded areas in the northern hemisphere in the United States, but can also inhabit other areas of the world. When an unsuspecting mammal passes by them, the deer tick can jump on and feed on the blood of its new host. Recognizing a deer tick bite is important, as the bacteria on ticks are known to transfer Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. These infectious diseases are known to adversely affect various body functions, sometimes leading to fatal damage to the body's organs. Open sores on the body with a red ring around it, random body ulcers, and localized skin inflammations are hallmarks of a deer tick’s bite.

Being aware of the nature of a deer tick bite will help you recognize one more readily. Most deer tick bites won't hurt when they occur. Deer ticks secrete a neurotoxin when piercing the skin, temporarily overriding the nerves and numbing any possible pain. Unlike "normal" bites, any trauma will manifest itself well after the deer tick has dropped off or moved onto another area of the body.

Bites from a tick will create a lesion that is slightly raised from the surrounding area. It is normal for the actual site of the bite to have a small but visible hole due to the neurotoxin destroying the cells in the immediate area. A red, inflamed ring will usually surround the bite.

A deer tick bite will usually have redness, with a possible sore-like growth surrounding the bite area. Localized pain and tenderness are also associated with a deer tick bite. Most of these ailments will manifest themselves in days, but sometimes weeks, after the bite has occurred. It is important to visit the doctor during this time, making sure to show the bite to the doctor and informing them of any outdoor activities, like hiking in tall grass, or camping in areas that are known to inhabit ticks. Prescription strength antibiotics will help to cure most symptoms.

If the tick attached itself on an area of the skin that is clearly visible, then you may be able to visibly see the tick feeding on your blood. You can recognize this deer tick by its distinct red body, sticking parallel to the skin as it feeds on blood. Minimize the chance of infection by removing the tick with a pair of tweezers, making sure to get the head during the process. It is also a good idea to wear long clothing with pants tucked into the shoes whenever you are out in a wooded area, and be sure to check yourself thoroughly, especially in areas with a lot of hair, for any ticks upon returning inside.


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