Skip to main content
Get Urgent Help

Search

General Information

Ticks are small arachnids that are extremely common in many parts of the United States, including Pennsylvania. Certain types of ticks may carry Lyme disease which is also very common in Pennsylvania. Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria carried by these ticks called Borrelia Burgdorferi. After spending time outside, it is wise to check your skin for the presence of ticks. Ticks must typically be attached for 48 hours to transmit Lyme disease to a human. The most important thing you can do when you see a tick is to remove it as soon as possible. Try not to panic! Tick bites are extremely common and most do not result in problems.

Tick Removal

You can attempt removing a tick at home! If you do not feel comfortable removing the tick yourself you can see a medical provider for help.

Instructions for tick removal at home

  1. You should grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible with tweezers.
  2. Grasp the tick with the tweezers, holding them parallel to your skin.
  3. Gently pull the tick directly upward, avoid twisting or bending.
  4. Wash the area with soap and water thoroughly.

While removing the entire tick is ideal, it is no longer recommended to make sure that the entire tick has been removed from the skin, removal of the body is sufficient. There are also commercial products available to help make tick removal easier. These include the “Tick Twister” or “Tick Tornado.” If you spend a lot of time outdoors it may be helpful to keep one of these products on hand for easy removal. The instructions for using these vary so make sure to follow the directions included in the packaging.

If you feel certain that the tick has been attached for less than 36-48 hours there is nothing you need to do once the tick is removed. A tick must be attached 48 hours or longer to transmit disease. If there is a chance that the tick has been present for longer than 48 hours you may want to consider consulting with a healthcare provider as a one-time dose of a medicine called Doxycycline can help prevent the development of Lyme disease. This is only helpful if it is given within 72 hours of removing the tick.

You should also monitor the area for redness, swelling, discharge, and drainage. These are signs of a skin infection and not Lyme disease. Consult a healthcare provider if you notice any of these signs or symptoms. You should be aware of the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease and monitor yourself for them.

Signs and symptoms of Lyme Disease

*If these develop please schedule an appointment for evaluation

  • A distinct rash known as erythema migrans
  • Joint pain (especially the knees and hips)
  • General unwell feeling
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Neck stiffness
  • Fever

Lyme Disease Testing and Treatment

Some companies and labs will test your tick for the presence of Lyme disease. This is not routinely recommended and is not offered at UHS. It is not necessary to save the tick. Testing for Lyme disease at the time of the tick bite is not helpful as it takes several weeks for your body to develop antibodies that produce symptoms and a positive test if present. If symptoms develop a blood test can help detect the presence of Lyme disease. Antibiotic treatment is given for 2-3 weeks and successfully treats most cases of Lyme disease.

Emergencies

In an emergency, go to Mount Nittany Medical Center or call 911 for an ambulance.

Test Results and Advice Nurse

Send secure messages to advice nurse via UHS website or call 814- 865-4UHS (4847), press 3.

Appointments

Appointments can be made online via the UHS website, by phone 814- 865-4UHS (4847), or in person. If you are unable to keep your appointment, please call or go online to cancel. Otherwise you may be charged.

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. This information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis, or treatment by a healthcare professional. 09/2022