Insects can be an irritant, especially midges and mosquitoes. Carry an insect repellent and treatment for bites and stings.
Ticks are a small, blood-sucking mite found in moist, coarse, permanent vegetation in woodland, heath and moorland including bracken, leaf litter and decaying mats of grass and sedges. Normally it lives on blood from larger animals, like deer, but it may also attach itself to humans. The tick sits on tall grass and trees waiting for a possible ‘host’ to walk by. If a tick attaches itself to someone, it will typically find its way to a warm, moist and dark place on the body (like the crotch or the armpit). It will then insert a probe into the skin and begin sucking blood. In most cases the tick will leave after a while, or the host will get rid of it without any harm having been done. But, occasionally, the tick carries a small bacterium that causes Lyme disease. The further under the skin it gets, the greater the risk of catching the disease. Every year about 300-500 cases of Lyme disease are reported. Although seldom fatal, Lyme disease is a debilitating condition that can remain in the body for many years, affecting the nerves and occasionally even leading to chronic arthritis and heart conditions.
The tick presses its head into the skin so it is important to try and remove all of it: remnants in the skin could cause infection.
- Seize the tick with a pair of tweezers as close to the head as possible. Take care not to pull it apart. Pull slowly and consistently until it lets go. Don’t pull too hard.
- If the above method fails, tie a cotton thread around the tick as close to the head as possible and pull slowly until it lets go.
- Do not attempt to remove the tick through burning or chemicals – this may cause more harm than good.
If you have been bitten by a tick and have removed it, the risk of getting Lyme disease is so small that there is no reason to use an antibiotic. It is, however, important to watch out for symptoms that may indicate Lyme disease, especially a red spot close to the tick bite. The spot gradually gets bigger and, eventually, a pale area will appear in the middle. This is often accompanied by headache and fever, which will usually appear between 3 and 30 days after the bite. If this happens, see a doctor immediately.