Evolution, dangers … Recognition and treatment of tick bites in children and adults

With Jean-Luc Bourrain, dermatologist

Ticks are small creatures that can bite humans and suck their blood. If the bite can cause unpleasant symptoms, there may be possible exacerbations, including lyme disease. How to recognize a tick and its bite? What to do to treat it and how to prevent it? We take stock of all these issues with Dr. Jean-Luc Bourrain, dermatologist.

What does a tick look like? Where are these mites found?

Ticks are small creatures that it is important to know how to identify. According to the French Lyme Association, the fleet is is a mite, of the subclass Arachnids, as well as spiders or shovels and chiggers. Fleets have eight legs. There are more than 800 species of ticks in the world, which are divided into two types: hard rafts and soft ticks. In France, there are 41 species of hard ticks. The most important and most prone to transmitting diseases is Ixodes Ricinus.

Ticks are found in all regions of France, without exception. They are found mainly in forests, however some species may be present on plains or even in gardens as well as in urban areas or even peri-urban areas. Walking in the woods are therefore the times when there is the greatest risk of getting a tick bite.

A tick bite is actually a bite. Live an average of three years, the tick will feed three times during its short life, which will help it go from larval state to adult state. The tick feeds on everything: wild animals (game, reptiles …) and domestic animals (cats, dogs, cattle …). Man is not spared. With its fangs, the tick will actually sit on its host and suck its blood. This unwanted and unsympathetic invitation can be detected as Dr. Jean-Luc Bourrain develops: “To recognize a tick bite, it must undergo a visual examination. When it bites, the tick will inject anesthetic fluid, which means that we do not feel it when it sticks to us. We can see redness around the bite and feeling of itchingbut it is above all the tick that is present in the skin that we want to identify. You can see a brown dot on the bitten area, or even the legs of the tick move. The tick may be more visible the day after the bite. So do not hesitate to look at the stuccoed area regularly ”. As for the most affected areas, these are often wet areas on the body, such as the calf or the back of the knee.

What are the dangers for children and babies?

Children and babies are no more vulnerable than adults if they are bitten by a tick. However, children can be exposed because they like to play and roll around. It is important after a walk in the country or a walk in the woods to check that there are no ticks on your skin. According to the Health Insurance website, it is recommended to consult a doctor if your child under the age of eight has been bitten by one or more ticks.

When to worry about a tick bite and when to consult? What is Lyme disease in humans?

Tick ​​bites are something to be very aware of. Ticks can, in addition to drinking our blood, also transmit diseases and pathogens due to previous bites on affected animals. The disease that is most transmitted through the borrelia bacterium is called Lyme disease. This pathology can become very restrictive if left untreated, as explained by Dr. Jean-Luc Bourrain: “You must first know that Lyme disease is a disease that is still very complex and poorly understood. If left untreated, it can develop severe and chronic symptoms in patients.” Cases of Lyme disease will develop in the following way in a person bitten by a tick;

The primary phase

The first stage of Lyme disease consists of the appearance of a erythema migrans on the skin area affected by tick bites. It is an inflammatory red plaque. It generally occurs between the third and thirtieth day (depending on the case) after the tick bite. Note that it happens that a plate appears within 24 hours after the bite of the tick. This is not necessarily erythema migrans, but a mild reaction to the tick bite. In all cases, it is important to monitor up to several weeks after the bite and to consult in case of occurrence of erythema migrans. Along with the latter, other symptoms may occur: joint pain, fever, headache, fatigue, etc. In this case, where the suspicion of Lyme disease is detected, the treatment consists of antibiotic treatment.

The secondary phase, joint pain and fatigue

This stage of Lyme disease will develop if care is not taken after the tick bite that carries the bacteria and the appearance of erythema migrans. Joint pain may develop further, symptoms of constant and chronic fatigue may also occur.

The tertiary phase

This is the latest and most severe stage of Lyme disease. It will lead to the development of severe, chronic symptoms similar to other neurodegenerative diseases, such as multiple sclerosis.

It is therefore important to consult very quickly in case of the occurrence of these symptoms to prevent the disease from developing: “In certain areas that are particularly affected by ticks, some doctors will automatically prescribe antibiotic treatment”, emphasizes Dr. Jean-Luc Bourrain. According to Sygesikringen, you must see a doctor with or without symptoms if you are immunocompromised, pregnant, if you have not had time to remove the tick after 36 hours, or if the tick when you remove it is full of blood.

Care and treatment: what to do and what to put on a tick bite?

If, during a walk in the woods or elsewhere, you notice that a tick has bitten you, it is important to develop the right reflexes, as Dr. Jean-Luc Bourrain explains: “You must first remove the tick from the bite point. For this it is important to use one tick puller and not to do this by hand or with nail clippers. The tick can actually release blood and increase the chances of contamination. Tick ​​removers are for sale at pharmacies. There are different models depending on the size of the tick.

The tick remover should be used gently so as not to tear the head off the middle and release the blood. It is necessary to make a movement of rotation and traction to remove the tick. In the slightest doubt or if you can not do so, consult the pharmacy directly. After a bite, once the tick is removed, apply an antiseptic cream to disinfect.

What prevention against ticks?

To avoid tick bites, it is important to follow preventative measures. Here are the main recommendations for good practice set by the Haute Autorité de Santé:

– During an excursion in nature, you must wear long clothes, closed shoes and you can also put the trousers in the socks to avoid any risk. It is also recommended to wear a hat, as ticks can bite the scalp.

– We are in favor of cleared paths, and we avoid walking in tall grass and ferns.

– If you go to an area where the presence of ticks is reported, it is best to bring a tick tractor so that the tick can be removed immediately after the bite. It is also possible to use repellent products applied to the skin, but beware, some are not recommended for pregnant and young children.

– We carefully inspect the areas of his skin and his relatives, but also pets, because there is a risk of infection. The operation must be repeated the next day.

– If you have been bitten by a tick, or if you have noticed their presence, use the “Tick Report” application to notify the competent authorities.

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