brrrrr... tick-tick-tick!!
March 31, 2008 2:06 PM   Subscribe

Eeeek! Bit in the ass by a tick! How did I get bit? Will I be OK?

Two nights ago, I was mindin' my own biz, watching TV, and I had to scratch my upper-left asscheek. When I hit the spot, I felt something... was theree a piece of skin gouged out? A new mole? Owwie! WTF?

I asked my (good) friend to look at it and she said, "It's a tick!" We got the alcohol out, doused and removed it. It had bitten deep into my flesh, and it was reportedly a big one. (I didn't want to look.) And she got the head out, so I don't have a tick-head in my buttcheek.

Two days later, it's still very sore to any touch. I've never been bitten by a tick in my entire life. So: two questions:
1) Is there a risk of Lyme disease, or is that only transmitted by tiny ticks? What are the symptoms?
2) Where the hell could I have picked up a tick? I have no pets to suspect (only gerbils), I live in the cityburbs... and I had my pants on for a long time (over 12 hours) before I noticed the bite.

I know I'm yummy, but there's some diners I just don't want to accommodate again.
posted by not_on_display to Health & Fitness (16 answers total)
more info: I did have a dog-owning guest the previous day.
posted by not_on_display at 2:14 PM on March 31, 2008

I live in New England and if I had a nickel for every tick I've pulled or had pulled off my body... well, I'd have like a dollar now. I seemed to get at least two every summer when I was a kid.

Anyway, I don't think you are at risk for Lyme's Disease, although IANAD. I've always been told it's transmitted by deer ticks, which are extremely tiny. The larger ticks that you can see with the naked eye are usually dog ticks and do not transmit Lyme's.

Just keep an eye on the bite spot. If it starts to develop the tell-tale bull's eye rash then hie yourself to a doctor. Monitor yourself and if you start to get a fever and chills then definitely get yourself to a doctor. I know several people who have contracted Lyme's but not all of them got the rash. Luckily for almost all of the people I know, they were cured with just a few weeks of antibiotics.

As for where you picked it up.... who knows, it could be anywhere. Ticks can travel on backpacks and towels and other people. I see you live in MA too. Ticks are everywhere here.

Upon preview: it could have been your friend's dog. I've certainly gotten ticks from dogs before. The tick could have traveled from dog to your friend to you.
posted by sutel at 2:18 PM on March 31, 2008

Very sore to the touch? That sounds like a possible infection. Are you absolutely sure you got all of the mouth parts out? It shouldn't hurt like that.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:18 PM on March 31, 2008

IANAD, but IIRC lyme disease is transmitted by deer ticks, which are extremely small (like the size of a pinhead).

as far as where it came from... those lil' suckers can climb. if you walked by some grass that brushed against your pant leg, the tick would hang around until it found a nice place to get comfy.

I have been bitten by dozens of ticks over my life time. you will be fine.
posted by gnutron at 2:19 PM on March 31, 2008

I thought I couldn't be bothered, but wikipedia says:
"Data has demonstrated that prompt removal of an infected tick, within approximately one day, reduces the risk of transmission to effectively zero percent."

Otherwise, look out for a rash circling the bite (or get your friend to), and keep an eye out for flu-like symptoms.

Plus: "Persons who remove attached ticks should be monitored closely for signs and symptoms of tick-borne diseases for up to 30 days. A three day course of doxycycline therapy may be considered for deer tick bites when the tick has been on the person for at least 12 hours."

I'm guessing when I got tick-bit as a kid I avoided Lyme as it sounds nastier than I remembered, though I was sure I had flu like symptoms afterwards.
posted by opsin at 2:19 PM on March 31, 2008

The fact that it's big probably means it was a dog tick, which is good since these don't carry Lymes disease.

You could pick it up anywhere there are any wild animals at all, a walk in a park. A stroll across a lawn. Anywhere. I pulled one out of the head of my 2 year old last night that I guess he picked up in our deer infested yard. I think that was his fifth, maybe 6th. I would guess after 39 years of hiking, hunting, fishing and living in the woods I've pulled well over 300 ticks from myself. So far, I've had Lyme's twice...

Don't sweat it. Put some Neosporin like ointment on in and you will be OK.
posted by Patapsco Mike at 2:23 PM on March 31, 2008

I'm no doctor either, but I've had the same problem. You can barely see a deer tick and as long as there's no red ring around the bite mark, you should be in the clear Lyme disease-wise. And Gnutron is right on...those lil suckers are quite talented.

Ticks are one of my biggest fears in life, and yet I've had only 6 or 7 of them over the past 30 years. But icky! I suspect if it still hurts that you have minor infection. A little rubbing alcohol and iodine should clear it up. If it still hurts tomorrow, head to the clinic.
posted by cachondeo45 at 2:24 PM on March 31, 2008

There's some good information about ticks on Wiki:

To remove a tick use a small set of tweezers: grab the head, pulling slowly and steadily. Crushing or irritating the tick (by heat or chemicals) should be avoided, because these methods may cause it to regurgitate its stomach contents into the skin, increasing the possibility of infection of the host.

The rostrum of a tick (the mouth-parts that are planted in the skin) is fully covered with spikes that are implanted backwards. If you pull upon the tick, these spikes will rise and the "head" of the tick will break and stay in the skin, causing pain and infection. On the other hand, if you turn the body of the tick (like unscrewing), the spikes will fold into the axis of rotation, and the head will detach easily.

It is essential not to compress the abdomen of a tick during the removal, to minimize the risk of saliva back-flow; this back-flow into the skin can lead to allergic manifestations and to transmission of tick-borne microorganisms. Tweezers and other similar instruments exert a pressure on the digestive tract of the tick

posted by MaryDellamorte at 2:44 PM on March 31, 2008

Echoing everyone else here, I wouldnt worry about it too much. If it was big fat tick, you're probably not at risk for Lyme disease. (The Erythema rash is also a symptom of some spider bites but that's neither here nor there.) I've had more ticks on me than I can count, some having dug in pretty good.

I recall one field season in central Nevada, working in a damp environment in the spring where, at the end of the day, we would groom each other like apes and flick ticks out the window of the truck while sipping end-of-the-day beers. Found one dug in, yank it out (twisting), flick it, and move on. Some of those actually were deer ticks, but no-one I know has ever come down with Lyme's Disease. *twitch twitch* Hopefully. Kidding aside, I think you're okay.
posted by elendil71 at 2:53 PM on March 31, 2008

At least it didn't eat your tongue :-)
posted by flabdablet at 4:54 PM on March 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

Well, my younger sister had Lyme and in a very bad way. She was initially infected some 15 years ago, but has some permanent problems from the ordeal. So, I realize I'm not really rational about the subject. However, the bite symptoms are pretty clear (years ago it was all but unknown) and if it's red and sore with a "bulls-eye"-like rash I'd urge you to not panic (as what happened to my sis wouldn't happen today) but to err on the side of common sense. It does sound like a dog tick (though thay can transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, God I hate ticks), and on a very sensitive body part, so it's likely nothing.
Just don't ignore obvious signs that somethings amiss.
posted by dawson at 5:10 PM on March 31, 2008

oops... Proper tools
posted by hortense at 7:03 PM on March 31, 2008

In another country BUT when I was a kid, we were camping (in the rainforest) and I found an engorged tick behind my ear. I'd yanked on it a bit before it even dawned on me what it was (Ugh!!) Then, because I'd forewarned it, they had a hell of a time getting the greasy bastard off me.

I've had the odd one every now and then but not like this. It instantly resulted in an oddly shaped rock hard lump. After a few days it started to go down. It took a long time to go. A nasty headache for the next day or so. Mum made a spectacle of me (as if it wasn't bad enough already) in front of a couple of Rangers. They'd never seen a reaction like that. But it looked normal except for the lump [-------@---------] @=tick. Yuk!!

So maybe you're just 'allergic' to them/it?

Get your friend to check their dog out. Perhaps preventative measures should be taken (vet or home remedies). Ticks can be nasty when you're little.
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 7:47 PM on March 31, 2008

As to how you got it - it probably dropped off the dog and had a nice slow stroll up your leg under your pants before finding just the right tender, juicy spot on your ass. Alternately, it got on you from the dog brushing past you and walked up your pants and then down under your waist band before going in for aforementioned ass smoothie.

Hate ticks. Hate, hate, hate them.
posted by plinth at 5:45 AM on April 1, 2008

^plinth: for clarity: said guest did not bring his dog with him when visiting. Other than that, thanks? for the description of the tick's daily stroll to the local kwik-e-mart.

And thanks all for the well-rounded (like my ass) introduction to the tickosphere. The bite's not nearly so tender today; I'll be fine.
posted by not_on_display at 6:16 AM on April 1, 2008

Call your doctor's office. They'll ask a couple screening questions over the phone, and depending on the answers may prescribe antibiotics. It's important to do this call today, because the window to begin this prophylactic treatment will have pretty much closed once it's 3 days after the bite.

There is a lot of misinformation in this thread, so don't take advice from anyone but your doctor. Presence/absence of tenderness tells you next to nothing about whether you picked up a tickborne disease (of which Lyme is just one). More info here, here, and here.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 9:23 AM on April 1, 2008

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