Ticks hide in tall grass waiting to grab on and bite the first warm body that walks by. Most of us haven’t had to deal with many ticks in our lives so we don’t know what to look for. Do ticks bite or burrow completely under your skin?
Do Ticks Burrow Completely Under Your Skin? No, a tick can’t burrow completely under your skin. Ticks can only penetrate your skin with their “Hypostome” which is the harpoon like teeth on their mouths. Their bodies need to be on the outside of your skin to fill up with blood.
You might still have a hard time finding ticks even if they can’t fully embed into your skin. Continue reading to find out a few of the most common places you’ll find ticks.
Can a Tick Bury Itself Completely Under The Skin?
A tick can only penetrate your skin with their hypostome. The hyposteme is the little needle like pincer/teeth at the end of the ticks mouth. It’s covered in rows of hooks, giving it a chainsaw look.
Those hooks act like mini-harpoons latching onto your skin, pulling its way in and refusing to let go. It’s almost like the ticks body is swimming into your skin. This allows them to stay attached for their blood meal that can last 3-10 days.
The stakes are high since ticks gorge themselves in order to survive. Throughout a ticks lifetime it eats 3 huge meals. Each meal is necessary for the tick to move onto the next life stage. It won’t survive without finishing its blood meal.
A tick might not be able to bury itself completely under the skin, but that doesn’t make it any less difficult to pull out. Continue reading below to find out the easiest way to pull out a tick.
Can You Feel A Tick Under Your Skin?
Yes you should be able to feel a tick that’s embedded into your skin. You should be able to feel a slight bump where the ticks giant blood-filled butt sticks out of the skin.
It will feel almost like coming across a large pimple or mole along your skin. An adult tick drinks so much blood during its meal that its weight will increase by over 200 times. That big fat engorged butt will be easy to feel on your skin.
When and Where Should I Look For Ticks?
The best time to look for ticks is immediately after spending time outside in tall grass or going on a long hike. Catching a tick early is crucial to preventing the spread of lyme disease. Risk of lyme disease is low if you catch/remove the tick within 24 hours.
I usually search for ticks in the shower when I get back from a long hike. A shower does 2 things. You’re naked so it’s easier to spot ticks and ticks can be washed away in the shower if they haven’t already latched on.
Take a look in the mirror and feel along your body looking for a slight bump. You might also want to ask somebody to give your back a quick look. My wife and I do a quick tick check after we get in for the day.
Pay special to attention to anywhere with exposed skin. If a tick latches onto your clothes it will crawl across your body looking for the first area of open skin it can find. Look right at the edge of your pant/shirt lines, neck line, and under your hair and ears.
Removing an Embedded Tick
Removing a tick isn’t all that difficult. There’s only one safe way to remove a tick. Don’t try burning it, smothering it, etc. Just take out a pair of tweezers and give it a pull.
I bought a specialized tick removal tool a few years ago called the Tick Key. My dogs kept picking up ticks and they were deathly afraid of tweezers. It worked so good that it’s all I use on myself now.
There’s no need to panic if you find a tick attached to your skin. Remove the tick as soon as possible to reduce your risk of catching lyme disease.
Remember that it’s not an urgent situation. Your goal is to pull the tick out within the first 24 hours. If you don’t have tweezers there’s always time to head up to the store to buy a pair.
- Grab a pair of fine tipped tweezers and get as close to the skins surface as possible.
- Gently grasp the ticks body and pull upward. Use a steady even pressure and avoid twisting and jerking the ticks body. You don’t want the body to break off leaving parts of the ticks mouth embedded in your skin.
- Don’t worry if part of the ticks mouth remains in your skin. Just clean off the bite area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water. Pay attention to the bite area keeping an eye out for signs of infection.
- Dispose of a live tick by flushing it down the toilet, putting it in rubbing alcohol, or wrapping it in tape. Never crush the tick with your fingers.
Follow Up Care
Most of the time you won’t have to visit a doctor after a tick bite. The risk of catching lyme disease is low if you catch the tick early. You will want to keep an eye on the bite area in the following weeks.
Watch for a rash or fever in the weeks following a tick bite. Lyme disease can be cured if you treat it with antibiotics early. Tell your doctor about the bite and try to remember exactly where/when the bite occurred.