How Ticks Can Make You Sick

Ticks are small arachnids, related to spiders. They feed on the blood of mammals, birds, and occasionally reptiles and amphibians. Ticks are responsible for a number of diseases, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, babesiosis, and ehrlichiosis.

Since they are so small, it’s nearly impossible for you to see them. There have been incidences where people have misdiagnosed a tick infection with other diseases. Once they latch to your body, they feed on your blood and become larger. You only get to notice them once they grow larger.

Different Types of Ticks

Some common ticks you will find include lone star ticks, dog ticks (found and transmitted through dogs), and black-legged ticks (aka deer ticks).

They vary in shape, size, and color. Some are larger, some are darker or reddish brown, and some even have markings on their shells.

How do ticks get inside your body?

Ticks prefer warm-blooded hosts and usually latch on to moist areas, such as your armpits, hair, groin, belly button, waist folds, inside and around ears, and back of the knees. Although ticks do not migrate, you must check your entire body if you have ever gotten a tick bite. 

When ticks find a desirable spot, they bite your skin until they draw blood. Unlike other bugs, ticks stay latched to your skin after biting you. A tick bite usually looks like a mosquito bite- tiny and a bit bumpy. After biting, ticks remain attached to the spot for 1-2 days until you remove them. In worst cases, they can stick to your skin for ten days, drawing on blood and getting bulkier. Then they detach themselves and fall off due to their body weight.

Make sure to contact your doctor after you discover a tick bite, even though you don’t notice any symptoms. This is because, in some instances of Lyme disease, you need to take treatment before the symptoms appear.

Symptoms that you are bitten by a tick

Ticks can stay on your skin for ten days after their first bite. One tick will only bite in one place instead of in clusters or lines like mosquitoes. It’s hard to determine whether a tick bites you. Depending on the type of tick, a tick bite usually gives you an intense itchy feeling on the spot. However, most people don’t feel it until the area swells, and rashes appear. 

Sometimes symptoms can take days to months to appear. For example, the bullseye rash caused by Lyme disease takes between 3 to 30 days to appear. The rashes also expand, and sometimes you may see more than one rash, reaching a width of 12 inches.  

Allergic reaction to a tick bite

Some tick bites are harmless and don’t generate any symptoms. However, it may cause an allergic reaction in some people, resulting to −

  • Rash and burning sensation on the site

  • Pain and swelling at the site

  • Blisters on the skin

  • Shortness of breath

Make sure to seek medical health immediately after noticing such allergic symptoms.

Tick-borne Diseases Symptoms

Here we have mentioned multiple symptoms of tick borne diseases, like

Lyme disease

  • Fever

  • Chills

  • Reddening or discolored rash or spot on the site

  • Fully body rash

  • Nausea

  • Weakness, muscle aching, and pain

  • Neck stiffness

  • Joint pain

  • Swollen lymph nodes

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

  • Vomiting

  • Sudden getting high fever of 102 or 103 degrees Fahrenheit

  • Headache 

  • Abdominal Pain

  • Rash 

  • Muscle aches

NoteRash is commonly noticed in Lyme disease, tularaemia, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI).

Tick paralysis is also an extreme symptom of a tick bite. This is because tick saliva contains a toxin that gradually enters your body, making you feel weak and slowly descending to paralysis. In such cases, you need to remove the tick immediately. Removing the tick will take 24 hours to regain movement.

Tick Bites Treatment

Removing the tick the moment you see it on the skin remains the first priority. This may help you avoid any tick-borne disease. However, if you are allergic to tick bites, you should remove them. This is because removing the tick can make it release more allergen, which only will worsen the situation.

Ask your doctor to send the tick to the laboratory to determine its type and any pathogens it carries.

Your doctor will prescribe treatment based on any allergic reaction and symptoms you feel after the bite.

How to remove a tick?

 You can remove the tick using a tweezer or a tick removal tool. Make sure to clean your hands and the device before using. 

Grab the tick with the tweezer as closely as possible from the skin’s surface.

Pull the tick right away- avoid twisting or bending it.

Check the bite area to notice any head or parts of the tick on the skin. If so, remove it carefully.

After removing, clean the spot with an anti-bacterial cleanser and apply an anti-bacterial ointment. 


Do tick bites itch?

Yes, a tick bite can cause an itchy reaction in some people. This is due to toxins and irritants in the tick's saliva. However, this is not always the case for most people. Some don't even realize a tick bite until the symptoms appear. This is why it's essential to scan your body for ticks after you come back from any tick-infested area.

If a tick bite gets you Lyme disease, you will first notice skin lesions known as erythema migrans (EM). These bites usually don’t show any additional symptoms, but some people have experienced itchiness and burning sensation around the bite area.

Can you get Lyme disease without getting a ring-like rash?

You can also get Lyme disease without getting a ring-like or EM rash. Although the EM rash is a sure sign of Lyme disease, not everyone gets it. Sometimes it may go unnoticed if the bite doesn't itch or hurt.

Where do you mostly find a tick infestation?

Ticks usually live outdoors, hiding in grass, trees, shrubs, and plants. They usually get in contact with humans by migrating from their pets to their bodies. They can also leave your body and get attached to your pets. You may also get it if you have gone outside hiking or playing. Ticks peak during the spring and summer months, from April to September.


Tick bites are often harmless and don't warrant treatment. However, some ticks may carry harmful diseases like Lyme disease. Get in touch with your doctor as soon as possible if you notice symptoms such as bullseye-shaded rash, fever, body pain, and chills.

Updated on: 02-Feb-2023


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