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Tick bites

What are ticks?
Ticks are small, spider-like creatures which feed on the blood of birds and mammals, including humans. They vary in size, usually between 1mm to 1cm long and they have either six or eight legs.

They can be found anywhere there is wildlife, usually in woodland and moorland areas, and are particularly common between March and October. The most common tick in Scotland is the sheep or deer tick. They do not fly or jump but climb on to animals or humans as they brush past.

About tick bites
Tick bites aren't usually painful and sometimes only cause a red lump to develop where you were bitten. However, in some cases they may cause:

  • swelling
  • itchiness
  • blistering
  • bruising

Speak to your doctor if you have:

  • a pink or red rash
  • a temperature of 38°C (100.4°F) or above
  • other flu-like symptoms, such as a headache or joint pain
  • swollen lymph nodes

Visit NHS Inform for more information about what to do if you think you or your child have been bitten by a tick,  how to remove ticks and how to prevent bites.


Animal and human bites

About animal and human bites
Serious animal and human bites can get infected if they're not checked and treated quickly.

Always seek medical advice if you've been bitten by an animal or person and the bite has broken the skin.

The following information is about bites by people and animals such as dogs and cats.

What to do if you've been bitten
If you've been bitten by an animal or another person:

  • clean the wound immediately by running warm tap water over it for a couple of minutes – it's a good idea to do this even if the skin doesn't appear to be broken
  • remove any objects from the bite, such as teeth, hair or dirt
  • encourage the wound to bleed slightly by gently squeezing it, unless it's already bleeding freely
  • if the wound is bleeding heavily, put a clean pad or sterile dressing over it and apply pressure
  • dry the wound and cover it with a clean dressing or plaster
  • take painkillers if you're in pain, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen – children under 16 years old shouldn't take aspirin
  • seek medical advice, unless the wound is very minor
  • If the bite has severed a body part like a finger or ear, wash it with tap water, wrap it in clean tissue, and store it in a plastic bag surrounded by ice so it can be transported to hospital. It may be possible to surgically reattach the body part later on.

When to seek medical advice
If the bite has broken the skin, you should seek immediate medical attention after cleaning the wound. Don't delay seeking help until symptoms of infection appear.

Minor bites can be treated at your GP surgery, or by staff at your local walk-in centre or minor injuries unit. For particularly severe bites, visit your local Emergency Department.

Visit NHS Inform for more information about animal and human bites, including signs a bite may be infected and how to avoid animal bites.

Where should I get help?
If your child does not have a life or limb threatening injury, consider calling NHS 24 on 111.

You may be allocated a virtual appointment on the same day with a doctor or nurse practitioner at our Flow Navigation Hub. This may avoid the need to travel to hospital.

If after talking to you and your child, they feel you do need to be seen at an Emergency Department or Minor Injury Unit they will direct you to your nearest one.
Editorial Information

Last reviewed: 04 October 2021

Next review: 04 October 2024

Author(s): Information from NHS Inform

Approved By: Dr Ciara Carrick