Ticks - Bite Symptoms

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What are tick bite symptoms and signs?

Unfortunately for the purpose of detection, the tick bite is usually painless and remains that way even after the tick stops the blood meal and falls off of the skin. Later, the bite site may develop itching, burning, redness, and rarely, localized intense pain (some soft tick bites) in some individuals. A few individuals may be sensitive or allergic to tick bites (tick saliva secretions) and develop rash, shortness of breath, swelling, numbness, or paralysis. However, the majority of individuals with tick bites develop no symptoms, and many people do not remember getting bitten.

Some immediate symptoms that infrequently or rarely develop during or immediately after a tick bite may be fever, shortness of breath, weakness, vomiting, swelling, weakness or paralysis, headache, confusion, or palpitations. Individuals with these symptoms should be seen immediately by a doctor.

Recently, researchers have found that the tick bite (mainly the saliva produced by the lone star tick) has caused thousands of people to become allergic to red meat (beef, pork, venison, and occasionally, milk). People can eat poultry (chicken, turkey) and have no allergic reactions. When they eat red meat, they develop swelling and hives. Some may develop anaphylaxis. The reaction is thought to be due to an alpha-gal antigen in the tick's gut and/or saliva that stimulates an immune response that results in an allergic reaction when red meat is consumed.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: Mansion Man, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: June 04

I visited Cape Lookout Island off the shore of North Carolina in May only to find the presence that evening of a tick attached to my outer upper thigh which I pulled off with my finger nail. I destroyed it by crushing it. Later I found a second tick on my clothing. That was also destroyed as well followed by a further search. No more were found. I developed a lump at the attachment site and two other spots on inner leg. All were red and itched. I am concerned if I have anything to be concerned about. Lump size is 3/16 in.

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Comment from: Nathan, 25-34 Male (Patient) Published: August 25

I was bitten by a tick on the top of my shoulder and when it was removed I began feeling dizzy and extremely itchy all over but around my glands in particular. After 10 minutes I had a rash all over my body and was turning bright red in the face, had trouble breathing and my neck was swollen. I was escorted to a chemist by an ambulance and bought some Phenergan (antihistamine) and the symptoms were gone in about 20 minutes. Now I have a large painful lump on my shoulder. I believe it was an adult female paralysis tick (Ixodes holocyclus) which are native to Australia.

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