Medical professionals advise against going to E.R. for tick bites this season

Published: Jun. 9, 2023 at 5:21 PM EDT
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HAMPDEN, Maine (WABI) - Tick season is back in full swing here in Maine, which has led to more and more people going to the emergency room for tick removal and inspection.

Medical professionals warn that these visits do more harm than good, due to the back-up it creates in waiting rooms. This results in longer wait times for patients, burnout for staff, and limitations in quality care for those experiencing dire medical emergencies such as heart attack or stroke.

When it comes to ticks, Dr. Kristopher O’Connell says, “It’s not necessary to go in the emergency department. There’s a lot of different resources patients can have.”

O’Connell is a physician at Northern Light Health in Hampden. He says that there are many steps one can take to remove ticks and monitor bites before resorting to the E.R.

After removing a tick, which can be done with tweezers or simply pulling up on it, O’Connell advises to wash the bite with soap and water and monitor your body for any rashes. If the tick’s head is still embedded in your skin, it will come out on its own within a few days.

Be on the lookout for flu-like symptoms or a bullseye rash 36 hours after a tick bite, as it can be Lyme disease. If these issues arise, Dr. O’Connell recommends scheduling an appointment with your primary care physician or going to a walk-in clinic instead of the emergency room.

It may not seem like it, but there are precautions you can be mindful of to avoid getting ticks in the first place. O’Connell advises taking showers and drying your clothes when you get home.

He also advises: “Wearing light-colored clothing, making sure that if there is a tick, you can spot it quickly. Try to be covered up if you can, long sleeves, pants, wear close-toed shoes. Otherwise, just checking yourself, your kids, or your pets.”

Ticks are almost inevitable during Maine summers. So, be prepared, take precautions, and know the symptoms and available resources before using emergency medical services to treat ticks.