How to Identify a Tick and When to Go See Your Doctor

how to identify a tick

It’s tick season and you know what that means. It’s time to start wearing bug spray, wearing high socks on hikes, and checking every possible crevice for those little pests. 

Ticks aren’t just an annoyance. Some of them can be deadly. It’s important to know how to identify a tick that can cause you harm. 

If you plan on getting outside this summer, you should know the species of ticks and how to identify their bites. This can help you figure out if you need medical attention before it’s too late.

Keep reading to learn all about tick identification and how to stay healthy after a bite.

How to Identify a Tick in Louisiana 

There are plenty of ticks around the country, but they don’t all live in the same places. The ticks you find in the north may be different from the ones in the south. 

If you’re looking for Louisiana native ticks, you want to get specific. Here are a few ticks that are common in the south.

Brown Dog Tick

Brown dog ticks are common all over the country, not just Louisiana. They’re light brown and almost translucent when they haven’t yet eaten.

As the name implies, they don’t often attack people. It happens from time to time, but they primarily go after dogs. Your dog could bring it into the home, but by that time it will likely be engorged with blood and easy to spot and remove. 

These ticks, while rarely harmful to humans, have the potential to transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever. 

American Dog Tick 

As with the last tick, the American dog tick primarily targets dogs. 

The male ticks have almost a leopardskin appearance, while the females are black with a white ring around the top of their abdomens.  

These ticks are also capable of transmitting Rocky Mountain spotted fever to humans. 

Gulf Coast Tick

These ticks don’t want to target humans, but they may. They’re more likely to target other mammals, primarily deer. 

The females look similar to the American dog tick females, while the males are grey with intricate patterns. 

They can transmit another form of spotted fever.

Lone Star Tick

These ticks will attack humans, but they’re easy to identify. These ticks can cause a tick-related rash infection (STARI) or ehrlichiosis. 

The female ticks have a large “star” (or white dot) on their backs, while the males are brown with an even larger dark spot on their back. 

When Should You See a Doctor?

Not all tick bites are going to cause damage. When they do, it will likely take at least a week to see symptoms.

That said, Rocky Mountain spotted fever is incredibly dangerous when untreated. If you have flu symptoms between 1 and 2 weeks of a bite, you need to see a doctor. If you see a spotted rash, you almost definitely have a spotted fever from a tick.

Ehrlichiosis also presents flu-like symptoms. If you notice them 2 weeks after your bite and they persist for several days, it’s time to see a doctor. 

STARI presents as a rash that looks similar to Lymes. However, Lone Star ticks do not spread Lymes disease. If you have a rash, you should see a doctor for antibiotics.

Protect Yourself From Ticks

Ticks are pests and they carry diseases. If you find yourself in a situation where you’ve discovered ticks on your body, you need to know how to identify a tick so you can determine possible future illnesses. 

If you’re concerned, or you notice symptoms, visit a doctor as soon as possible to get treatment. 

If you’re worried about a tick bite in Ruston, LA, visit our site and contact us to set up an appointment.