Posted in Writing Life

*Tick Bites

One of my children got a tick bite this week right here in the city–just walking in a ravine. If I didn’t have a friend who had tried to get a Lyme’s diagnosis, I wouldn’t ever have given my daughters’ rash a thought. I’d have just tossed it off as one of those weird skin things that come up all the time. Kids get rashes. But I know better and I want everyone else to know better, too.

My d complained of an itch and a sting, but it didn’t look out of the ordinary at first. The morning after the walk, it was just a large diffuse pink patch, like any skin reaction. She called me at lunchtime from school and thank God she did. When I walked down to the school office to have a look, she was in good spirits, ready to run back to her classroom, worried that she’d be late as lunch was over. I stopped her, had a look at what she called, entirely accurately, “a pepperoni.” It looked just like a slice of pepperoni, just as round, just as red, and about the same size.

It was too regularly shaped to be an ordinary rash. I went home and googled tick bites. Yup–there it was, looking just like my child’s red spot. Because of my friend, I know that if caught immediately, the infection from a tick bite is quite treatable. But if ignored, the rash disappears, and the infection continues internally. Months and even years later when systemic and severe symptoms erupt, it is difficult to diagnose and difficult to treat.

I went home and called the pediatrician, who told me to bring my daughter in right away. The pediatrician confirmed that yes indeed it did look exactly like a tick bite, and caution dictated antibiotics, not only to prevent Lyme Disease, but to prevent cellulitis, too. So I found out something I didn’t know: that any infected insect bite can cause cellulitis, which is an inflamation of connective tissue and fat. If untreated the infection can spread to blood and lymph nodes and become very serious.

Lyme’s is on the move due to climate change and habitat change. It’s difficult to confirm when it’s reached a new area because someone has to catch the tick, keep it, and then have it analysed. A diligent and conscientious doctor, like my children’s pediatrician, is aware that even if there aren’t any confirmed infected ticks, Lyme’s is a possibility. I took the prescription to the pharmacy, got it filled, and my daughter started on it right away.

I’m proud of her. She is only eight years old, and has never called from school before. But she honoured her instinct to call me and she was wise. I’m grateful to our pediatrician. And I want to tell everyone I know what to look for.

lyme infection from a tick bite, note the bull's eye; this is the classic look, but it doesn't always appear exactly like this
tick bite, note the pepperoni look


Lilian is the author of Web of Angels, a novel about a mom with DID (multiple personalities). She's also the author of the historical novels, The River Midnight and The Singing Fire, about secrets, friendship and motherhood in 19th century Poland and London.

22 thoughts on “*Tick Bites

  1. Pete, I didn’t either until I heard about it from other people, so I figure that I should be passing the information on!

    Rachel, they are loathsome. I’m glad you’re on the look-out.

  2. Ticks abound up at Llew’s parents’ place, so we are always checking ourselves, but I wouldn’t have known until now what symptoms to look for. Well done to your daughter for trusting her instincts – there’s something truly great about that at her young age. A friend of mine developed cellulitis in her foot and it progressed with alarming speed and ferocity. They caught it in time and threw an arsenal of antibiotics at it, but it was pretty serious – very educational, I’d been completely ignorant about it.

    1. Alison, I’m so sorry about your cousin’s husband. I’ve had a look at the blog–the information about the songbirds carrying infected tics is important, and I am forwarding the URL to my friend.

  3. Oh my gosh, i have a rash like that and i didnt know what bit me, I’m 17 so i just thought it was a harmless spider or something. Then i thought to look up ticks as I have had a tick burrow into my neck before. I’m thinking that maybe i should see a doctor now. Thanks much for the info.

  4. I’m glad I found this site as I found the little “target’ looking bite on my inner forearm and even my doctor didn’t know exactly what it was but put me on antibiotics a few days after the bite. Never saw what bit me. Thanks again.

    1. You’re welcome Marti and thanks so much for letting me know. I think this post, so far, is the one that is most often visited on my blog, so if my blog accomplishes nothing else, it at least spreads the word on what this rash is all about. Lyme’s, when it becomes systemic, is so nasty, and yet if people catch it in type, preventable. And as you say, someone might have no idea it was a tick.

  5. Ive had two different bullseye looking bites on the same leg within days of each other. I had no idea what it was from, all I know is that they hurt a lot! Theyve gone away now but Im definitely going to the doctor as soon as possible! Thank you for the information.

    1. You’re welcome Belinda and I’m glad to hear that you’re going to the doctor. This post has been the one that’s been most viewed on my blog, so if nothing else, I’m gratified to know that I’ve done my bit for passing on info on this subject!

  6. hi. I just got off the phone with my husband whom is visiting family in oklahoma. He told me that he had been bitten by about 6 ticks yesterday and thinks he got all the heads out of his skin.
    How long does he really have to be seen by a doc before its too late? He doesnt have the means to get to a doctor right now while he is there and just wants to see a doc when he gets home, which is in a week…
    This has me extremely worried.

    1. I can’t give you any professional advice as I’m not a doctor, but I will speak to you as a wife and mom and friend of someone who is suffering the after effects of what is possibly Lyme’s. Does he have a circular rash? (Not necessarily a bullseye, because that can be hard to see, but a round quarter sized or bigger rash) If so he should see a doctor right away–within 24 to 48 hours. Getting the head out doesn’t eliminate the infection if there is one. In that case he would need to be treated right away with antibiotics. If he does, it’s very simple. But it’s not something you can wait on. Then it becomes complicated and possibly debilitating. Hopefully he didn’t get bitten somewhere he can’t see.

  7. My husband, my 35 months old baby girl and I went to the Alaska Regional ER on the 6th day of june 2011 for unknown bug bites, he smile at us and think we’re crazy. He said it’s only an allergic reaction just get benedryl for itch. here I am crying right now after reading your story all the symptom we have is the same with no treatment. Please if you can help us let me know. We are in Anchorage Alaska

    1. awww. hang in there. i’m not a doctor. i’m just a parent sharing information. are you still having any symptoms? if you are, then go back to your doctor and talk about it. here is some info that might be reassuring though. we were in the country recently and my d–the same one who had the tick bite–had huge reactions to regular bug bites. i was fairly sure it wasn’t ticks, though it looked a bit similar, because the colour was not as deeply red in the middle. it wasn’t the kind of place that ticks live. and she had about 6 of them. ticks embed themselves into the bite. it’s possible to have one tick bite where you don’t find the tick. but it’s unlikely to have 6 bites and not a single tick visible. but still i took her to the doctor right away. it looked to me like possibly the bites were infected. the doc (the same one we went to before) said they were regular bites with an allergic reaction. so it may well be that that is exactly what you had. the regular bites with allergic reaction got better over the next few days. but the one that was the tick bite took a really long time to disappear. it was still visible long after the bite.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s