Ticks are not my favorite topic. Ewwwww! But some things simply must be told.
On April 29th I noticed a funny little thing clinging to my arm, about the size and color of a grain of wild rice.
Once the mysterious bug was removed, I still didn’t think much of it, except the bite area immediately began to itch and swell! “Hmmm,” I thought, “Probably nothing to worry about. It’s in a tender spot.”
Lyme Disease has been increasing around Virginia. My own niece has been suffering from its devastating effects now for four long years, so I suppose this has made me acutely “bug aware.”
And even though the bug that bit me didn’t look much like a tick, I saved it on a damp white napkin in an airless plastic bag, in a hidden part of the refrigerator. I also labeled it with the date and took a picture of the bite.
A bit of antihistamine gel happily stopped the itch, and the swelling went away.
Phew! Gone and literally forgotten.
But guess what? In about a week the swelling and itch returned in the same spot!
Then in another week or so, it happened again.
And the same ugly spot and itch returned 4 or 5 times between April 29th and June 18th.
“What’s going on here anyway?”
I was due for my yearly dermatology check-up on June 18th. “I’ll just ask the doctor what she thinks about this recurring bug bite.”
After hearing my story and viewing the evidence, the good doctor said,
“I would like to treat you for Lyme Disease with a course of antibiotics! It may not be Lyme, but this could definitely be a tick, and because the bite is returning so often, it would be better to be safe than sorry.”
So, even though it is questionable whether the tick was a carrier of the Lyme Disease infection, I am now on antibiotics as a preventative measure and I am grateful to my dermatologist for being cautious.
I have also learned a few things:
- Don’t count on finding the “Bull’s Eye” rash everybody talks about. It doesn’t always appear and if it does, it could be weeks after the bite. Mine was not a Bull’s Eye rash.
- Don’t wait. Get a medical opinion if you think something is odd.
- Don’t count on a blood test for Lyme either. According to my dermatologist, “blood tests are notoriously unreliable.”
- All ticks are not alike, and a tick does not always look like you expect it to. I have learned the tiny little deer tick (the size of a poppy seed) elongates and enlarges somewhat when it has had a full meal (me).
- Not every tick carries Lyme Disease. Deer ticks are not the same as dog ticks. Dog ticks ordinarily do not carry the disease. Deer ticks can and sometimes do.
- Ticks live in the grass. If you plan to be gardening or walking, wear long pants tucked into boots and spray around that area of your lower legs with a bug repellant.
- If you are bitten like I was, don’t be embarrassed to record the date, save the bug, or take a picture. The dermatologist thanked me for keeping those records because it helped her decide on a course of action.
And, Moral of the Story: Don’t ignore strange bug bites. “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
- 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Lyme Disease (petcarerx.com)