Tick ​​bites can make you really sick – so what’s the best way to deal with them?


Blood-sucking ticks can feed on some pretty awkward places – from your ear canal to your eyeball, not to mention your groin!

You will encounter these tiny parasites – a species of arachnid related to mites – in many parts of Australia, particularly along the east coast.

They hang on blades of grass or other plants, wave their legs outstretched and wait to cling to unsuspecting passers-by.

And they can make you really sick.

So before you panic, check out these top tick tips.

Quick tick facts:

  • There are 70 species in Australia and at least 16 people bite
  • All stages of the life cycle can feed and you can be bitten at any time of the year
  • Ticks can be smaller than poppies
  • If not removed, they can feed on you for around 3-7 days
  • Pets and local animals can carry ticks into your yard

Why worry about ticks?

When a tick bites you, it will sting you with a barbed straw-like mouthpiece and inject saliva into you.

This saliva contains toxins and other nasty substances that can cause a number of health problems.

Tick ​​bites can lead to too bacterial diseases like Queensland Tick Typhus and Flinders Island Spotted.

The paralyzing tick on the east coast (Ixodes holocyclus) can cause Paralysis, which is relatively rare in humans. (Take care of your pets, however.)

Tick ​​mouth tools can be seen somewhat under the microscope.Delivered: Sue Lindsay)

Far more common allergic reaction To wean off saliva. These can range from mild ones, which make the bite red, swollen, and inflamed, to life-threatening anaphylaxis.

Tick ​​bites can also lead to mammalian meat allergy (MMA), which means you will no longer be able to eat red meat (including beef, lamb, pork, or goat) or related products like gelatin. It can also mean that you cannot receive certain drugs or vaccines.

According to Tick Induced Allergies Research & Awareness (TiARA), Australia has the highest prevalence of MMA and tick anaphylaxis in the world.

How to avoid ticks:

  • Wear light-colored clothing (to make ticks easier to see) – treated with permethrin if possible
  • Wear a long-sleeved shirt, long trousers with pants tucked into socks
  • Wear a wide brimmed hat
  • Use an insect repellent that contains DEET. contains
  • Before you go back inside, brush your clothes to remove ticks
  • Check your body for ticks

You have a tick. What now?

There is conflicting advice on what to do if you’ve been bitten by a tick.

What we do know, you need to avoid squeezing or bothering it as this will likely result in more allergens, toxins, and pathogens being injected into you.


  • Scratch it
  • pull out with your fingers
  • Use a needle or matchstick to pull it out
  • burn it up
  • Put chemicals like denatured alcohol, nail polish, alcohol, or petroleum jelly on it.

Ixodes holocyclus tick full of blood If the bleeding is full, the paralyzing tick can grow to over a centimeter.Delivered: Professor Stephen L. Doggett Westmead Hospital)

Some say pull it out

The traditional advice – also from the Federal Health Office – is: Pull out with fine tweezers (not the blunt household tweezers that most of us use).

Grasp the tick close to its mouthparts near the surface of your skin, then gently pull it up using even pressure. Try to avoid jerking or twisting the checkmark.

In reality, this is quite difficult and is not recommended for those allergic to ticks.

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Some say ‘freeze’

But the advice of Australian allergy and emergency specialists is: kill it while it’s still on you.

They say using tweezers increases the risk of accidentally squeezing the tick, which means more saliva will be injected into you.

“Household tweezers are tick squeezers,” says Dr. Sheryl van Nunen, who was the first to discover the mammalian meat allergy.

“Freeze, don’t squeeze,” says Dr. van Nunen.

The Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) recommends Freeze the tick with an ether-based spray – Your pharmacist should be able to help you find these products.

After 5 minutes, the tick should die and fall off. If it doesn’t fall off or you can’t freeze the tick, ASCIA says to seek medical help.

Please note: Freezing can damage the skin in sensitive parts of the body, so be sure to follow the instructions.


Baby ticks are often too small to spray, so the recommendation is: “dab it, don’t grab it” – Dab the tiny ticks with a cream containing permethrin, such as that used to treat scabies.

Then you can brush them off or they’ll fall off on their own.

Why is this advice confusing?

Experts say there was little research on Australian ticks and the health risks they pose. International research may not take the Australian situation into account.

A last year by Dr. The study published by van Nunen and his team underscores a growing consensus in Australia that supports the “kill-the-tick-in-place” approach.

The Ministry of Health announces that it will publish an updated tick factsheet in early 2020, based on the latest findings.

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What should you do if you think you may be allergic?

While there is no tick allergy test, be sure to see your doctor if you’ve had an allergic reaction to ticks.

For those known to have tick allergies, the Health Department and ASCIA recommend that they go to a medical facility to have the tick removed.

And make sure you have an EpiPen with you and use it immediately if you experience any symptoms of anaphylaxis.

Allergy aside, always Seek medical advice if you feel unwell after a tick bite.

What about Lyme Disease?

Some say that Australian ticks can cause a debilitating Lyme disease-like syndrome.

So far, however, researchers have not been able to find any Australian ticks harboring the bacteria that cause the disease.

Research is investigating possible causes of the disease (currently known as “debilitating symptom complexes due to ticks”).

Some researchers believe that unique bacteria present in Australian ticks can cause the symptoms.

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