Tick bites are a common source of anxiety, and many people don't know if they need immediate treatment or testing, especially if they see some redness around the bite mark. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
• A bite is very unlikely to transmit Lyme disease if the tick was attached to you for less than 36 hours. Your doctor likely will not prescribe antibiotics. • If the tick was attached for longer than 36 hours, your doctor MAY give you a single dose of prophylactic antibiotic to lower the risk of contracting Lyme disease. This can only be done within 72 hours from when the tick was *removed.* • Tick bites will often cause some redness quite quickly because of anticoagulants the tick uses to drink blood. This area of redness is common with any tick bite, and is NOT the same thing as the famous "bulls-eye" rash that can be a sign of Lyme disease: the bulls-eye rash usually takes at least a week or longer to appear. • Useful tip: if you think you may have a bulls-eye rash, take a photo with your cell phone and bring it to your doctor's appointment. • A blood test for Lyme disease usually takes at least two weeks from the time of the bite to become positive. You shouldn't expect your doctor to order you a test immediately after a bite, since it won't be reliable. • Some patients are more likely to suffer complications than others. Talk to your own doctor about your particular medical profile and risk factors, and work together on deciding a course of observation or treatment. • If you DO have Lyme disease or your doctor wants you to have a full course of treatment, take all the antibiotics as directed, and do not stop early even if you feel back to normal in a few days. If you don't complete your therapy, you may develop a resistant infection.