Wilderness Medicine, First Aid, and Outdoor Skills

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US Army First Aid Manual
Fundamental Criteria for First Aid
Basic Measures for First Aid
First Aid for Special Wounds
First Aid for Fractures
First Aid for Climatic Injuries
First Aid for Bites and Stings
First Aid in Toxic Environments
First Aid for Psychological Reactions
Appendix A: First Aid Case and Kits, Dressings, and Bandages
Appendix B: Rescue and Transportation Procedures
Appendix C: Common Problems/Conditions
Appendix D: Digital Pressure
Appendix E: Decontamination Procedures
Appendix F: Glossary

Table of Contents

Trauma Pictures

After reading this article, be sure to see our pictures of Lyme Disease in our trauma section.


The Deer and Lone Star tick are prevalent throughout Illinois, and are both culprits in carrying Lyme Disease. They belong to the class of Arachnida, which are related to spiders and scorpions. They have three stages of growth, larva, nymph and adult. The nymph is approximately the size of one number on a penny, which makes them very difficult to detect. The Lone Star tick has a white dot on its back, which is visible to the naked eye, and that is usually seen in the adult stage. You will not see the white dot during the nymph stage of development.

To quell some myths often associated with ticks, ticks do not completely burrow beneath the skin. It is usually only the head that is found under the superficial layer of the skin. A tick has to be attached for at least 24 hours to transmit Lyme disease. Subsequently, if a tick is removed after being in the field, one faces a greatly decreased risk of acquiring Lyme disease.

Allergic reaction is a common side effect of tick bites. There is usually redness at the area and itching for the next 24-72 hours. This should not be confused with erythema migrans, the rash associated with Lyme Disease.

Not all individuals who contract Lyme disease will display erythema migrans. Percentages vary, but generally, only 40-70% of individuals diagnosed with Lyme disease will display this rash, which typically presents with a central clearing, surrounded by a bright red, fairly large rash area measuring anywhere from 6-7 cm. or larger around the central clearing.

Antibiotics are very effective in treating early stages of Lyme disease. If you are bitten in an area endemic to Lyme disease, it would be prudent to see a health care provider for assessment and treatment, if necessary.

As with mosquitoes, ticks find a host by seeking out carbon dioxide that is excreted from the skin of all mammals. To diminish the risk of a tick bite, it is best to employ more than one approach including topical application of sprays and appropriate clothing.

  • Deet can be very effective in preventing ticks from attaching by masking the carbon dioxide excretion. However, It is Survive Outdoors’ experience that it is not 100% effective. When using Deet, use at least 30% Deet, but no greater, as it can cause skin reactions.
  • Wear light-colored clothing when possible.
  • Tuck your pants into your socks.

After being in the woods, always check your entire body for any possible ticks. This includes ALL crevices. Having a loved one carefully check your hair with a fine-toothed comb has proven beneficial.

Tick Removal

In removing a tick, DO NOT use fire. You do not have to cover the tick with Vaseline or nail polish, as that will not increase the speed in which the tick will back out and remove itself. Simply grasp the tick with your fingers, and slowly pull on the tick, at an angle 90 degrees away from the skin, and as you very slowly pull, the tick will eventually let go. If the head remains imbedded in the skin, tweezers can be used to remove the head. If you encounter difficulty removing the head, seek medical attention from a health care provider to ensure the removal is complete.

Tick Pictures

Ticks belong to the class Arachnida, which are related to spiders and scorpions. Ticks have three stages of growth, larva, nymph, and adult. The photos here are that of adult deer ticks in the midwest. The nymph tick is the size of one numeral on the year of a penny, the adult is much bigger.

Lone Star Tick
White dot visible on back.
Lone Star Tick

Wood Tick, Dermacentor, sp.
Also known as dog tick.
Wood Tick

Adult Wood Tick
Adult Wood Tick

If bitten and the tick is still attached, slowly pull on the tick with fingers or tweezers, careful not to crush the tick's body. DO NOT burn the tick, or cover with fingernail polish or other substances. The tick will let go, however, if the head breaks loose simply use tweezers to remove it. If the head is left in, an allergic reaction is common. Practically all tick bites will result in some local allergic reaction which result in severe itching. Topical over the counter hydrocortisone works well to slow down the itching.


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