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Tick bites now a ‘year-round threat’ due to climate change – warning signs of Lyme disease

Lorraine: Dr Hilary discusses symptoms of Lyme disease

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Ali explained: “Experts have warned that ticks have become a year-round threat because of climate change. Milder winters, with more rainfall, are believed to have extended the UK’s tick season – which usually falls between spring and autumn.” Tick bites are not always painful, Ali pointed out, which is why you might not realise you’ve been bitten straight away. If, however, you notice a red lump, this could be an indication of a tick bite.

“In some cases they may cause swelling, itchiness, blistering or bruising,” Ali added.

“Ticks can also spread Lyme disease,” Ali cautioned. “Ticks that may cause Lyme disease are found all over the UK.

“Be aware of high-risk places, including grassy and wooded areas in southern and northern England, and the Scottish Highlands.”

Lyme disease

Ali highlighted the early symptoms of Lyme disease which, in some people, can lead to the “characteristic circular or oval-shaped rash”.

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Akin to a bull’s eye, the rash appears within one to four weeks of being bitten by an infected tick.

For some people, however, it can take up to three months for the trademark bull’s eye rash to develop.

“Some people also get flu-like symptoms a few days or weeks after being bitten by an infected tick,” Ali added.

For example, flu-like symptoms might include: a high temperature; feeling hot and shivery; headache; muscle and joint pain; tiredness; and loss of energy.

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“See your GP if you have any of these symptoms,” Ali advised, as the bacterial infection is easier to treat if it’s diagnosed early.

The NHS warned that Lyme disease can lead to long-lasting symptoms, such as tiredness, aches, and loss of energy.

These side effects of being bitten by an infected tick could linger for numerous years.

How to protect yourself against ticks

“You can reduce your chances of being bitten by a tick by covering your skin whilst walking outdoors,” said Ali.

One of Ali’s key tips is to tuck your trousers into your socks if you do go out for a walk along grassy fields.

“Stay on clear paths whenever possible,” he added. “Take extra precautions in long grass, leaf litter and wooded areas.”

Moreover, people are advised to “wear light coloured clothing so that you can see ticks more easily and brush them off”.

One of the best defences is to wear insect repellent, with Ali recommending Jungle Formula.

“EPA tested repellents that contain DEET have been proven to help provide long-lasting protection against tick bites,” Ali confirmed.

“However, there are effective DEET-free alternatives.” Ali suggests that after being outdoors, check for ticks on clothing and exposed skin.

If you do find a tick, “safely remove it using fine-tipped tweezers or a tick-removal tool”.

Should you develop the characteristic rash, do seek the support of your doctor.

Farah Ali is the Superintendent Pharmacist and spokesperson for Jungle Formula.

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