This is the time of year when you or your children may get a tick bite if you and they spend any time out of doors. The good news is that most ticks do not carry diseases and even those that do may not transmit bacteria or viruses to you in a single bite. The bad news is that the diseases that they do carry, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and ehrlichiosis, can be serious.
If you have been out on a hike or just sitting in the backyard, make a habit of checking for ticks when you come inside. Check your whole body for ticks. This includes your groin, your whole head, behind your ears, and your underarms. Use a fine-toothed comb on your hair or have someone else check your scalp. Check your children in this same way every day.
If you have been walking in high grass or hiking in woods where there are a lot of deer, clean your clothes and anything like a backpack that you had with you as soon as possible. Put your clothes in a hot dryer or hang them out in the sun on a hot day for at least 15 minutes to kill the ticks.
And if you find a tick feasting on you? Don't panic. Use tweezers to remove the tick by grabbing it as close to the skin as possible and pulling it straight out. Do not grab the tick by its belly or the belly. If you don't have access to tweezers, wear thin gloves or use a tissue so that you do not touch the tick.
Keep an eye on the area where you found the tick for several days to see if a rash develops. If you see a rash or have any other symptoms, call your doctor.
For more on ticks and tick-borne illnesses, go to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention's page on ticks.