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Tick Bite

By Bjarne Lühr Hansen PhD, MD and Philipp Skafte-Holm MD, Mentor Institute

A tick can transmit the bacteria Borrelia. You can remove the tick by yourself. Contact the doctor if you have a ring-shaped rash or paralyses.

The bite itself from a tick is not dangerous. However, approximately one in every five tick has a certain bacteria (Borrelia) in its stomach. When a tick with Borrelia in its stomach bites you, there is a risk of transmitting the bacteria to the wound. If this happens, you can develop more or less serious signs of Lyme disease.

The peak season for ticks is April to October. Ticks thrive in moist shadowy terrain, mostly in deciduous forests and particularly in glades with tall grass. The tick sits on the top of a straw and when you pass it grips your legs or arms with its bite.

At first, the tick is seen as a small black spot in the skin that you cannot brush off. Later, when the tick sucks blood, it grows and now you can see the body and the head with its jaws locked into the skin.

It takes 48 hours from the tick to bite for it to transmit Borrelia. Therefore, it is important to remove the tick within 48 hours.

If you have been infected with the Borrelia bacteria, you can develop two different pathological pictures that both require treatment with antibiotics.

A. Ring-shaped rash around the tick bite

It can take between 3 days to 1 month after the bite, until the rash begins. The rash begins as a small red spot that spreads in the course of a few weeks. While the redness spreads, the skin around the bite itself turns almost normal colour. Therefore, the rash starts to look like a ring that spread – the same way a ‘fairy ring’ spreads in the lawn. At the same time, half of those who have a ring-shaped rash, complains about headache, pains everywhere and have a light fever.

B. Inflammation of the nervous system

Inflammation of the nervous system is what everyone fears when bitten by a tick. It is very rare that a tick bite leads to inflammation of the nervous system. It can take several weeks from you have been bitten to the symptoms of inflammation of the nervous system appear. Many may have forgotten about the bite or have not even noticed it.

Inflammation of the nervous system can appear in many different ways. Typically, there is pain in the back radiating out into both arms, strong reduction of strength or paralysis of one half of the face. Less typical is prolonged headache, loss of appetite, weight loss and outspoken tiredness.


Infection with Borrelia should be treated with antibiotics.

What can you do?

A tick should be removed as soon as possible. It is easiest to remove a tick with a special tong that can be bought at the pharmacy. With caution and patience it is possible to remove it with your fingers. You place two fingers around the abdomen of the tick. Thereafter, a long slow pull is performed while ‘screwing’ the tick out. It is important to avoid squeezing the abdomen because that presses the Borrelia bacteria directly into the bite wound. When the tick is removed there is often a remainder of the tick left in the wound but this is not important. The remainder of the tick falls out by itself in a couple of days. The spot is not to be mistaken for the ring-shaped rash that spreads.

Contact the doctor tomorrow

If a ring-shaped rash develops where the tick has bitten you.

Contact the doctor immediately

If you suspect inflammation of the nervous system, which means in case of paralyses in arms, legs or in one half of the face.