TICKS IN MICHIGAN: Is that a tick bite?

Dermatologist seeing more tick bites than ever before

By Sarah Mayberry, M.P.H. - Producer

WYANDOTTE, Mich. - Dermatologist Dr. Steven Grekin has no doubt it's a bad year for ticks.

 "This year we've seen more ticks than I've seen in my entire 25 year career," said Grekin.  "In one week, we saw five patients that actually had ticks on their body.

Ticks can be as small as a poppy seed, making them difficult to spot.

"Some people come in and they say, 'Oh, Dr. Grekin, I have a new mole I'd like you to look at it,'" said Grekin.  "When you look at it with a handheld microscope you say, 'Oh my goodness, that's a tick.  And then you have to start the process of removing it."

Ticks that have been attached to the body for a while can grow to the size of a grape.  If the tick is not still attached, it's far more difficult to identify a tick bite.

While Lyme disease can cause a distinctive red bullseye rash that expands over days, tick bites in general can cause a variety of reactions.   A single, eraser-sized red area that appears in the first 24 hours is more likely to be a local reaction to the tick bite.

"It's best to be treated by someone that is skilled, highly skilled, in the proper diagnosis of which tick is actually biting you," said Grekin.

Identifying the tick can help determine if you need antibiotics.  It's also important to remove the tick correctly.

RELATED: How to remove a tick

RELATED: How to protect your pets from ticks

Many of Grekin's patients are surprised to learn a tick bite is to blame.

"Half of the people were just in their own backyard," said Grekin.

Grekin encourages everyone to be more vigilant about wearing tick repellent and checking for ticks after spending time outdoors.

"That's the best prevention is to look for the tick so you can remove them, so you don't have to worry about getting a disease."

MORE TICK RESOURCES:

The five most common ticks in Michigan

Printable guide to ticks in Michigan

TICK ID: Tick Identification Guide or to submit a picture to be identified

Learn more about having a tick tested in Michigan

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