In general, routine use of antibiotics to prevent Lyme disease following tick exposure is not recommended. However, antibiotics such as doxycycline*, amoxicillin, cefuroxime, and ceftriaxone can be used to treat Lyme disease if an infection develops. If you notice symptoms of Lyme disease, see your doctor for treatment.
For people who require treatment for a mild infection associated with Lyme disease, the doctor usually prescribes an oral antibiotic for 2 to 4 weeks to cure the infection.
For people who require treatment for more severe infections associated with Lyme disease (such as people with neurological or cardiac symptoms), the doctor usually prescribes an intravenous (given through the vein) antibiotic. For persistent infections, a longer course of treatment may be necessary. Lyme disease is easier to treat when treatment is started earlier in the disease.
You can help prevent Lyme disease if you know what to look for. The tick digs its mouth into the skin and feeds for several days before dropping off. The bite causes no local symptoms. If you spend time in the woods, you should wear long pants, socks, a hat, and a long-sleeved shirt to reduce the chances of tick bites. As an extra precaution, tuck your pants into your socks or put tape around the area where your pants and socks meet.
Permethrin sprayed on clothing kills ticks, and commercial sprays are readily available. Other tick repellants include DEET, oil of lemon, eucalyptus, and picaridin.
Once you get back indoors, inspect yourself carefully for ticks. If you spend several days outdoors in areas that might contain ticks, inspect yourself daily. Check your skin carefully for ticks, and ask someone to check your scalp for ticks. If a tick has already latched on to you, don't panic. Ticks are less likely to transmit the infection if they've been attached for less than one day. This is because they need to feed for 24 hours to help the bacteria grow inside their own bodies to the point where it can cause infection.
The following are some other things you can do:
- If possible, stay away from tick-infested areas.
- Stay in the middle of hiking trails and try not to brush against grasses or leaves.
- Avoid wearing sandals and open-toed shoes. Wear shoes that cover the entire foot.
- Wear light-coloured clothes to make it easy to spot ticks "hitching a ride" on you.
- Spray your clothes and exposed skin (except your face) with an insect repellent that contains DEET, oil of lemon, eucalyptus, pircaridin, or permethrin.
- Check your pets for ticks on a regular basis.
To remove a tick from the skin, use tweezers to hold the tick by the head as close to the skin as possible and pull slowly but firmly. Avoid twisting or crushing the tick when you are removing it. Do not squeeze the tick's body, as this may speed up infection.
Do not apply petroleum jelly or alcohol, or use a hot match, nail polish, or other products and home remedies to remove a tick.
After you've carefully removed the tick, cleanse the area with an antiseptic (e.g., alcohol) or mild soap and water. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. You should also have tick bites examined by a doctor, especially if you develop a rash or experience flu-like symptoms.
If possible, try to save the tick by placing it in a small vial or zip-lock bag (use a double bag). The tick can be sent to a lab for further investigation, which may help in diagnosing your illness if symptoms develop. Place a wet paper towel in the vial or bag with the tick to prevent it from drying out, since dried out ticks are harder to identify.
*All medications have both common (generic) and brand names. The brand name is what a specific manufacturer calls the product (e.g., Tylenol®). The common name is the medical name for the medication (e.g., acetaminophen). A medication may have many brand names, but only one common name. This article lists medications by their common names. For information on a given medication, check our Drug Information database. For more information on brand names, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2017. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/condition/getcondition/Lyme-Disease