Tick bite care, references for Urgent Care and PCPs.

ILADS Member Jane Marke, MD has the following message. To contact her directly, write to contact@ilads.org and your message will be forwarded on to her.

I’m getting lots of calls from friends and family all over the country who are having trouble getting treated for tick bites. If you have having a similar experience, you, too, might want to have something handy to send them about what to expect, and how to enlist the health providers they see in giving appropriate treatment. To that ends I’ve gathered what I think is helpful for people to bring to Urgent Care or their PCP with them if they find these providers resistant to treating them.

Thanks to MMI, Lucy Barnes and PubMed for content.


Basic email:


Here’s what I think is most important to know about tick bite treatment:

Tick Bite Care
What to do if you get a tick bite? There are some myths, but there’s good science busting them.

1.  Tick attachment time is irrelevant. If a tick is sick enough, Lyme bugs are in their saliva, and they transmit the disease immediately. If the tick is less infected, they have to send bugs from their stomach to mouth, and that takes longer. But do you really want to count on how sick the tick is? Don’t let anybody tell you that because the tick wasn’t attached for 24-36 hours you’re ok.

2.  One double-dose of doxycycline is not sufficient. The guidelines that are on the government guideline website, www.guidelines.gov advise 21 days. (That’s a federal government Institute of Medicine website and it’s high quality). No other Lyme guidelines exist. (CDC is not in charge of guidelines; the Institute of Medicine is.) The problem with the study of one single-dose of doxy is that it looked for the bull’s eye rash; it did not look to see if people got sick later. It reduced the rash incidence by 87%. That’s something; but not enough, and it tells us nothing about whether those without rash got sick later. There is no reason to not follow the government guidelines and to risk your health or that of your child because somebody only wants to give you one “double dose” of doxy. There are mice studies of this treatment, and they look abysmal.

3.  If you missed the tick bite and have the bull’s eye rash you are lucky inasmuch as you have incontrovertible evidence of being infected with Lyme. You HAVE Lyme. You can still get “early Lyme” treatment, but it’s not the same as treatment for a tick bite. You can find recommendations for treatment on the http://www.guidelines.gov website. Here’s a direct link to the Lyme Guidelines: http://bit.ly/2tqnaGU. These are government endorsed guidelines, the best we have at this point in time.

4.  Tick-testing is controversial. Don’t wait for the testing to get treated. Negative tick tests give you no useful information; we have no idea how reliable tick testing is vs human testing. But if a tick is positive for a co-infection, something other than Lyme, you might consider getting prophylactic treatment. That’s your call, made with your doctor, but it’s a real consideration. So if you send the tick for testing, make sure the lab tests for co-infections, as well as several species of Lyme.

Jane Marke, MD, ILADS member
New York, NY


If you find a doctor willing to become educated on TBI’s (tick borne illness) please give them this link:  https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2017/06/20/help-doctors-get-educated-on-lyme-and-tick-borne-illness/

Please read:  https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2017/07/12/start-treatment-if-tbis-are-suspected/

Even the CDC is stating to treat empirically (this is new as of July, 2017): https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2017/07/01/good-morning-america-cdc-advises-multiple-lyme-tests-due-to-false-negative-results/  CDC spokesperson at end of video.

https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2017/05/01/co-infection-of-ticks-the-rule-rather-than-the-exception/ If ticks are co-infected, patients can be too.

https://madisonarealymesupportgroup.com/2017/07/01/one-tick-bite-could-put-you-at-risk-for-at-least-6-different-diseases/  Ticks transmit a whole lot more than Lyme.