How to Check for Ticks

How to Check for Ticks
Ticks are nasty little critters that can carry diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia. Unfortunately, ticks are common across the US. This article will help you locate ticks and remove them from the body.
 

Instructions

Difficulty: Easy

Know What to Look For

Things You’ll Need:
  • Privacy
  • Mirror
  • Handheld mirror
  • Tweezers (to remove ticks)
 
Step 1
Know your ticks. Ticks are parasitic arthropods, members of the subgroup acari, of the class arachnid. They are not insects. Ticks are more closely related to spiders. There are at least 889 species of ticks in the world. In the US these are usually broken into two categories: dog ticks and deer ticks. Dog ticks are larger, hard ticks (from about 1/8 inch to 1/2 inch when engorged), and are easily identified on the body. Deer ticks are much smaller, and can be hard to spot. They are approximately the size of a sesame seed (until engorged).
Step 2
Act quickly. Some diseases can be transmitted after 24 hours of the tick feeding.
Step 3
Check yourself immediately after hiking if you're in an area where ticks are common.

Checking for Ticks: Check From the Ground Up

Step 1
Find a private place, preferably a bathroom, with a mirror.
Step 2
Check the legs and ankles first, before moving up the body. A systematic way of checking yourself helps eliminate the chance of missing ticks, especially the smaller deer ticks. Ticks do not jump, they are picked up in passing. The majority of ticks will be on the lower half of your body.
Step 3
Check beneath the top few inches of your socks. Men should roll the leg hair back slowly, and check at the hair roots for deer ticks.
Step 4
Check up the legs, on the backside of your knees, around the waist of your pants or shorts, before checking the arms.
Step 5
Check other visible areas of skin before undressing.

A Thorough Once Over

Step 1
Undress and start again from the ground up.
Step 2
Check everywhere you can see, from inside the thighs right up to the pelvis. Men should check under the scrotum and on the underside of the penis. Woman should check around the labia majoris. Check the pubic region thoroughly.
Step 3
Check the armpits. Ticks are fond of warm areas on the body.  Check through any hair thoroughly.
Step 4
Check around the neck and hairline. Use the mirror, and feel with your fingertips. Check behind your ears. You should also check through your hair. If on the scalp, ticks will usually engorge a few inches within the hairline, so give particular attention to these areas.

Those Hard to See Spots

Step 1
Use the handheld mirror to view between the buttocks and on the underside of the groin.
Step 2
Use the handheld mirror and the a wall mirror to see along your back.
Step 3
Use your fingers to feel in all the crevices of your body.

Removing Ticks

Step 1
Remove ticks by pulling them out of the skin with the tweezers.
Step 2
Be careful to pull slowly, firmly, and in the direction of the hind quarters. Larger ticks are harder to remove, but easier to grip with the tweezers.
Step 3
It's always best to remove the entire tick. Most diseases are passed in the tick's saliva. This is particularly the case with deer ticks.

Check Again in a Few Days

Step 1
Check yourself again next time you're in the shower, or a few days later.
Step 2
Look for any inflamed or sensitive areas on the skin. Gorged ticks will be swollen with blood and easier to find, especially in the hairline, if you missed them the first time round.
Step 3
Look for marks on the skin. Lyme disease is sometimes preceded by a large red bull's eye mark, known as erythema migrans. If you see this mark you should call a doctor immediately.