Tick ​​bite - Possible consequences and react correctly

Tick ​​bite - Possible consequences and react correctly

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A tick bite can transmit diseases

Ticks are small arachnids that are not only widespread in Germany. Their parasitic life serves their development and reproduction. They are looking for numerous vertebrates to ensure their vital blood supply. You are also often used to sting people. By changing hosts, dangerous infectious diseases can also be transmitted. Lyme disease and early summer meningoencephalitis (TBE) are particularly well known. But not every tick or bite leads to an infection or disease that needs treatment.

A brief overview

Everyone knows the warnings of ticks in spring and summer. Many then wonder what exactly the danger is and what can be done to prevent the risk of a tick bite or possible communicable diseases. The following overview briefly summarizes the most important information:

  • definition: Ticks don't bite, they bite. In their lives, they look for several hosts for their blood meals, whereby a number of possible infectious diseases can be transmitted.
  • Biology of the tick: The tick is an arachnid and a temporary parasite. During its two to three year life it develops from a larva to a nymph and then to an adult animal. For this she needs blood from vertebrates as food. The highest activity and risk of ticks occurs between March and October, depending on the weather conditions. You can find them all over Germany. They like to lurk on tall grass, in the undergrowth and on bushes at low heights.
  • Diseases caused by tick bites: Ticks are potential disease carriers and can pass on a variety of pathogens. The most well-known infectious diseases that are associated with a tick bite are Lyme disease and the rarer early summer meningoencephalitis. As a rule, the diseases are transmitted after a sting at the earliest after about twelve hours.
  • Protection from ticks: There is no one hundred percent protection, because ticks can be anywhere. In the tick season, it is important to wear the right clothes when outdoors, to apply insect bites and to search the body thoroughly for ticks.
  • Correctly remove ticks: If there is a prick, quick removal is the best protection against diseases. The use of aids is not absolutely necessary, but is recommended. However, the animals can also be pulled slowly and straight out of the skin with the fingers - without squeezing the abdomen.
  • treatment: Only in a few cases does a tick visit require a doctor's visit or even therapy. In any case, this is advisable in the case of a noticeable blush (erythema migrans), local signs of inflammation and (flu-like) symptoms. This should also be observed for a long time after the stitch.
  • Naturopathic measures: Rubbing the skin with certain (essential) oils can help to keep ticks away, as can eating garlic. Various other options can be considered for supportive treatment.

Note: The website of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) on the subject of “tick-borne diseases” always contains updated information.


Although most people talk about tick bites, the ticks don't bite, but sting their host. With their special mouth tools they scratch the skin superficially and then insert their sting (hypostome) deeper under the skin. The correct term is therefore the tick bite.

Once the spike is anchored, there is a tiny wound. This fills with blood and serves the tick as a food source again and again as long as it adheres to the host. The tick releases indigestible constituents primarily at the end of a suction process. Sometimes pathogens that come from previous hosts get into the wound.

Biology of the tick

The tick (Ixodida) is a temporary parasite and belongs to the class of arachnids (Arachnida), easily recognizable by its eight legs. More than 900 tick species are known worldwide, whereby the common woodbuck (Ixodes ricinus) is the tick species that most commonly affects people in Germany. The wooden trestle is the best known species from the family of the tick ticks.

The animals go through three stages of development (larva, nymph, adult), which are particularly noticeable in size growth. Depending on the gender and stage, the specimens are only between 0.5 and three to four millimeters in size when fasting, whereby males are smaller and also differ significantly in other external characteristics. Due to the blood sucking, the body size increases significantly, especially in adult females, and they are then more visible.

After the blood meals, which usually last for several days, the ticks fall off and change their stage of development in the interim rest periods (winter breaks). In the adult phase, reproduction takes place. The male animal dies shortly after mating, the female only after the laying of up to two thousand eggs per clutch.

The tortoise ticks live about two to three years, whereby they can last a lot of time in resting phases until they find the next host. So they can get by without food for up to a year. They can be anywhere in nature, but they are particularly often found on water courses or forest edges with lush undergrowth. But parks and gardens also offer attractive living spaces. They like to sit on tall grass and bushes and usually do not exceed a height of one and a half meters. Accordingly, the widespread belief in ticks falling from trees is wrong. They attach themselves to a passing host and then try to get to a suitable suction point.

In principle, ticks like it warm and moist, so that the annual tick season is between March and October, depending on the weather conditions. However, they can also remain active all year round, so that, for example, they can enter the house with fir branches during the Christmas season and infect a host.

Ticks are widespread in Germany, which should not be confused with the risk areas for early summer meningoencephalitis (TBE).

Diseases caused by tick bites

Not every tick bite also leads to an infectious disease, since not all ticks are infected. If ticks are quickly recognized and removed correctly, the risk of infection is significantly reduced. Pathogens usually take twelve hours or more to transmit to the human body.

The best-known infectious diseases transmitted by the woodbuck are Lyme disease and TBE.

In rare cases, however, other pathogens can also be transmitted to the human organism. Multiple pathogens can even pass over at the same time, causing double or multiple infections.

Examples of other infectious germs are bacteria such as rickettsia, which cause the so-called spot fever (tick bite fever) or the Ehrlichia, which can cause fever and pain (Ehrlichiosis). However, like tick relapse fever and Q fever, these are almost exclusively travel sicknesses and occur very rarely in Germany.

In addition, dangerous tularemia can be passed on via the bacterium Francisella tularensis or come to a babesiosis (also called dog malaria) through parasitic protozoa. The list of possible but extremely rare diseases in Germany is long.

Lyme Disease

The term borreliosis is an infectious disease caused by Borrelia bacteria (Borrelia). The so-called Lyme disease is the only Borrelia disease occurring in Europe and is therefore often equated with the general term of Lyme disease. Are the cause of this disease Borrelia burgdorferi Bacteria or related pathogens.

According to the RKI, less than two percent of all tick bites in Germany lead to manifest Lyme disease, although a relatively high proportion of the (adult) ticks are infected with the bacteria, especially in southern Germany. Infection (even without symptoms) occurs in up to six percent of the stung people. Compared to the TBE disease, Lyme disease occurs more frequently and across Germany.

Lyme disease has many faces and can affect the skin, nervous system (neuroborreliosis), joints and heart, with most infections being symptom-free. In the early phase (a few hours to weeks after the sting), Lyme disease can be noticed almost exclusively due to the so-called wandering blush (Erythema migrans). But it does not appear in all infections.

Early summer meningoencephalitis (TBE)

TBE is an inflammation of the brain and meninges caused by a viral infection. In the vast majority of cases, however, the first flu-like symptoms and later neurological complaints are absent. Severe courses involving the central nervous system have so far been observed almost exclusively in adults.

The transmission of the causative flavivirus takes place primarily through tick bites in the risk areas. Every year, new TBE risk areas are determined by the RKI. A risk area (district level) is defined by a certain number of TBE diseases caused by ticks over a period of five years. Most of the south of Germany is considered to be more risky, but mild winters are also increasingly accompanied by northern areas and altitudes.

The Standing Vaccination Committee (STIKO) recommends TBE vaccination (also known as tick vaccination) for people who regularly stay in the risk areas or who travel there.

Protection from ticks

There is no one hundred percent protection against ticks, as they can be found everywhere in nature and are usually overlooked due to their size. In addition to the vaccination recommendation for protection against TBE, simply implemented behavioral tips can largely prevent a tick bite. These include:

  • Avoid places with ticks, such as tall grass and undergrowth,
  • Wearing light, long clothing (socks over the legs of the pants) to make access to the skin more difficult and to spot ticks more easily,
  • Use of repellents,
  • Check for ticks after a walk or stay outdoors, especially on thin and warm skin areas (armpit, groin area, back of the knee),
  • Naturopathy: Rubbing with (essential) oils and eating garlic.

Pets (e.g. dogs and cats) should also be searched, as they also serve as hosts and can bring ticks into the house or transmit them to humans.

[GList slug = ”10-tips-for-protection-before-ticking”]

Correctly remove ticks

If a tick has stung, it must be removed as soon as possible. Contrary to previous opinions, the ticks should not be killed with nail polish or glue or unscrewed. Both processes represent an increased risk that the tick will release infected body fluids before being removed.

There are now a number of different simple tools to remove a tick without problems. These include tick cards, special curved and pointed tweezers and tick lasso. Older models of tick pliers are not suitable for use in humans.

If there is no aid at hand, you can simply use your fingers or floss (knot the loop) or use a simple threader (thin wire loop).

The same instructions for correct removal apply to all methods and aids:

  • Grab or fix the tick as close as possible to the puncture site, without crushing the rear part,
  • Pull out the tick slowly and straight,
  • Dispose of the lifeless tick.

If parts of the tick (mouth tool) remain in the skin, this usually also runs smoothly. The body independently repels this rest. The injection site should be disinfected and monitored after removal. Usually the small wound heals quickly.

Treatment - when is it necessary to see a doctor?

If a local inflammation develops after a tick bite (redness, swelling, overheating), redness persists for a long time or spreads (reddening), a doctor should be consulted.

In any case, you should also look out for possible signs of infection and symptoms that may occur in connection with Lyme disease or TBE over a longer period of time, and seek medical advice in the event of complaints.

Whether there is a disease and which pathogens are involved must always be clarified individually and before deciding on the appropriate therapy (e.g. antibiotic therapy for a bacterial infection).

Naturopathic measures

Herbal remedies that keep the parasites away help to prevent this. In addition to rubbing oils from tea tree, lavender, rosemary, citronella or coconut, for example, the consumption of garlic also works against the little animals.

If there is an infection and an outbreak of illness, conventional medical treatment is generally advisable, since in the worst case there is a risk of serious consequences and complications.

Other complementary options

For example, the special naturopathic treatment of nosode therapy is used to activate the body's own defenses and thus counteract infectious diseases. Various homeopathic remedies (nosodes) are available that contain extremely dilute pathological material (e.g. pathogens or infected blood). After ingestion, the body should develop its own immunity to these harmful germs. Various potencies are available, including the Borrelia, TBE and tick bite fever nosode.

There are also complex agents and prophylactic applications. However, since the basis for every homeopathic treatment is the individual symptom pattern and the actual existence of a disease, no disease prophylaxis can and should not take place from a homeopathic point of view.

Current information

Every year, the RKI website provides information about the current TBE situation for Germany - including regularly revised maps for the risk areas. The RKI also provides other information on tick-borne diseases.

Experts are increasingly warning of infectious diseases and migrated tick species. Factors such as mild winter and climate change or increased global mobility enable ticks to spread worldwide with earlier and longer periods of activity. This also increases the risk of communicable diseases. (cs)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Dr. rer. nat. Corinna Schultheis


  • Elfie Fust (2009): Tick bites. Disease patterns and treatment options. Basics and practice, 2nd edition.
  • Robert Koch Institute: Answers to frequently asked questions about ticks, tick bites, infections, access: June 10, 2019,
  • German Dermatological Society (DDG): S2k guideline: Cutaneous Lyme disease. As of March 2016. AWMF register number: 013/044,
  • German Society of Neurology (DGN): S3 guideline: Neuroborreliosis - guidelines for diagnostics and therapy in neurology. As of March 2018. AWMF register number: 030/071,
  • German Society of Neurology (DGN): S1 guideline: Early Summer Meningoencephalitis (TBE). As of January 2016. AWMF register number: 030/035,

Video: Ticks: How to remove them correctly. (May 2022).


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