What should you do after a tick bite?

When the outside temperature exceeds 8°C, ticks start to become active again. If you find that a tick has attached itself to your skin, you need to know how to remove it correctly. And when you should visit the doctor.

28.03.2022 Lara Brunner 4 minutes

Ticks can transmit infections. To prevent infection, ticks should be removed immediately. 

How do you remove ticks correctly?

To remove a tick, you will need to use fine, pointed tweezers, a tick card or a tick pen. Grasp the tick as close to the site of the bite as possible, preferably by its head. Slowly pull the tick straight out, with one even stroke. Check that you have removed the whole tick and that no mouth parts are left in the wound. Lastly, disinfect the area.

What to remember when removing a tick:

  1. Do not twist or squeeze the tick, as this will leave the wound more vulnerable to infection.
  2. Do not try to burn the tick off or soak the tick in oil or alcohol.
  3. Remove the tick as soon as possible. If you don’t have a suitable tool to hand, remove the tick with your fingernails.

When should you visit the doctor?

In most cases, there is no need to see a doctor after being bitten by a tick. However, in the following cases or if symptoms occur, you will need to visit the doctor:

  • You are unable to remove the tick or fail to remove all of it.
  • After removing the tick, a red bulls-eye rash develops around the bite.
  • You experience flu-like symptoms a few days or weeks later.
  • The tick bite becomes infected and begins to fester.

Can you be bitten by a tick without feeling it?

Yes. However, once the tick is no longer attached to your skin, a bite can be difficult to spot. There is no way of telling whether you have a tick bite or a mosquito bite by looking at the bite alone. Disinfect the wound and monitor the area over the next few days. If you notice any of the symptoms described in this article, you should visit the doctor.

Protection against ticks when jogging and walking

Taking simple precautions can reduce the likelihood of being bitten by a tick when running through woods or along narrow paths.

  1. Wear closed-toe shoes, knee-length socks and ideally long trousers and long-sleeved tops. For added protection, you can tuck your trousers into your socks.
  2. Choose light-coloured clothing and socks that will make it easier to spot ticks.
  3. Spray your skin and clothes with insect repellent.
  4. Avoid walking through brush, bushes and tall grass.

Thoroughly check your body and clothes for ticks after jogging or walking. 

Which parts of your body are most susceptible to tick bites?

Ticks like warm, moist skin. Make sure you inspect these areas carefully:

  • Armpits
  • Shoulders
  • Neck
  • Hairline
  • Ears
  • Neck
  • Navel
  • Backs of knees
  • Inner elbows
  • Pubic area
  • Inner thighs

Remember to keep a particular eye out for young ticks. They are tiny and look a bit like spiders. 

What happens during a tick bite?

Ticks feed by penetrating your skin and extracting blood. Their mouth parts are made up of cutting organs, with which they cut the skin to access the blood supply, and the hypostome, which they insert into the incision to suck out the blood. The hypostome is anchored in the surrounding tissue with small barbs.

Which diseases are transmitted by ticks?

Lyme disease

Lyme disease is caused by bacteria that inhabit the tick's intestines. If you have been bitten by a tick and it has started to access your blood supply, pathogens will migrate from its intestines to its salivary glands. After about 12 to 24 hours, the bacteria enter the human body along with the saliva. If Lyme disease is detected in time, it can be easily treated with antibiotics. There is no vaccine.

The progression and symptoms of Lyme disease

Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE)

TBE is caused by a virus. The pathogens are in a tick’s saliva. This means they can enter the human body shortly after you’ve been bitten, unlike Lyme disease. Not every tick transmits the TBE virus and not every infected person will develop the disease. In rare cases, however, TBE may be severe and even fatal. A vaccine is available to protect against TBE. 

Key facts about TBE and the TBE vaccine

Read more

Lyme disease: how the disease progresses
Take action if you notice a skin rash or experience flu-like symptoms after being bitten by a tick: you may have contracted Lyme disease.
May 23, 2018

Tick vaccination: what you need to know
Read on to find out whether you need a tick vaccination or a vaccination booster.
March 31, 2021

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