ROCHESTER, Minnesota — Summertime is here and so are the bugs.
"Some of them can potentially be dangerous if they bite you. They can transmit disease causing bacteria, viruses, even parasites. Whereas, others are just annoying like gnats and deer flies," said Dr. Bobbi Pritt, a pathologist and microbiologist at Mayo Clinic.
When it comes to ticks attached to the skin, Dr. Pritt warns against burning it or putting Vaseline on it as a removal method.
"The goal is to get it off of your skin, out of your skin, as quickly as possible without damaging you or the tick. If you damage the tick while it's still attached, you may actually increase the chances of it spreading a disease to you," Dr. Pritt said.
Use tweezers or forceps; get as close to the skin as possible and pull it off in a continuous motion without twisting it.
"When you remove the tick it's very important that you look at the angle in which the tick is in your skin and make sure that you remove the tick at the same angle parallel to its penetration into your skin. Otherwise... you won't get the entire head or mouth part or you might fracture the tick off and leave the head behind and then often times we have to biopsy that piece out to make sure that it's removed," explained Dr. Dawn Davis, a Mayo Clinic dermatologist.
Make sure you clean the area on the skin after the tick is removed.
Dr. Pritt said if a blacklegged tick has been attached for more than 36 hours, put the tick in a Ziploc bag and see your physician or monitor for any symptoms.
Dr. Davis agreed but said she typically tells patients to hold on to the tick if they believe it has been on them for more than 24 hours.
By holding on to the tick, doctors can look at it to try and determine how long it was feeding on a person's blood.
Symptoms that may possibly be related to a tickborne illness include fever, aches and pains or a rash. Lyme disease typically starts as a bull's-eye or target on the skin often times where the tick was.
"Just because you have general symptoms and a rash and you've had a bug exposure does not mean it's related to tickborne illnesses. You could also have something completely unrelated," Dr. Davis said.
There are many ways that people are exposed to bugs indoors including through their pets. When coming inside after being outdoors, check yourself, any kids, and pets for bugs.
Dr. Pritt recommends wearing bug repellant that is long-lasting.
"The ones that really stand out on the top would be those that contain DEET, 30% DEET or more, or picaridin. You could also use oil of lemon eucalyptus which is almost as good as DEET," Dr. Pritt said.
Ones like citronella are not as effective and need to be reapplied more often.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency has a resource on its website to help people find the right repellent for their situation. Dr. Pritt also recommends spraying clothes with permethrin.
Other tips from the doctors include staying on the trail versus heading into longer grass, tucking pants into socks for less exposure and wearing light-colored clothing while outdoors to better spot ticks.