I got my first tick bite recently, on the top of my foot. The tick was latched on. There was a circle of small dots around the tick and a slightly bigger red area close by. They were all there from the beginning.

Could those be test bites before the tick found the best spot?

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    Hi Elsie! If you haven't yet, please call a doctor now!! Reading medical websites, or quotes from them, is the wrong step. None are fully accurate, especially those that tell you when or which symptoms should appear after having been bitten. Any red area around a tick bite should signal an immediate phone call to a doctor. I repeat-neither we nor anyone else on the internet can give medical advice in this case. It's dangerous and irresponsible. I speak from experience, do not wait! It could be nothing, which is what I hope! Much better safe than sorry. Dec 5, 2017 at 21:49
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    Were they really all there "from the beginning", or just all there when you first noticed them? Get to a doc ASAP. If it is Lyme's disease, a course of antibiotics will take care of it, because it doesn't sound advanced. If it isn't, good news! But don't wait; the longer you wait, the higher the chances are that you will develop the other symptoms described in the answer below, and the harder to it will be to treat.
    – ab2
    Dec 6, 2017 at 2:42
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    I second what @Sue says. In 50+ years of getting tick bites on myself, I have never seen this pattern, so it's very unusual. Hopefully you've already called the doctor. Please report back, we'd like to hear the outcome. Dec 6, 2017 at 15:42
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    @Sue "Reading medical websites, or quotes from them, is the wrong step" seems exactly the right step. Going with every tick bite to the doctor would be pointless (especially in countries where it costs you money). In this case you should go because every site/book or manual you grab will instruct you to do so in this situation. Have had my fair share of tick bites and not once needed to go to the doctor (always carefully monitored the area of course), although family members did need to go ocassionaly. Dec 7, 2017 at 11:03
  • @Elsie What's the latest? How is this going? Dec 11, 2017 at 16:08

4 Answers 4


I don't think they ever do test bites.

If it looks anything like a dot surrounded by a ring, go see a doctor as you might have Lyme disease.

From the Centers for Disease Control

Tickborne diseases can result in mild symptoms treatable at home to severe infections requiring hospitalization. Although easily treated with antibiotics, these diseases can be difficult for physicians to diagnose. However, early recognition and treatment of the infection decreases the risk of serious complications. So see your doctor immediately if you have been bitten by a tick and experience any of the symptoms described here. (Emphasis mine.)

See this related page from the CDC for more information:

Image displaying possible physical manifestations appearance

Early Signs and Symptoms (3 to 30 days after tick bite)

  • Fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes
  • Erythema migrans (EM) rash:
  • Occurs in approximately 70 to 80 percent of infected persons
  • Begins at the site of a tick bite after a delay of 3 to 30 days (average is about 7 days)
  • Expands gradually over a period of days reaching up to 12 inches or more (30 cm) across
  • May feel warm to the touch but is rarely itchy or painful
  • Sometimes clears as it enlarges, resulting in a target or “bull’s-eye” appearance
  • May appear on any area of the body
  • See examples of EM rashes

Later Signs and Symptoms (days to months after tick bite)

  • Severe headaches and neck stiffness
  • Additional EM rashes on other areas of the body
  • Arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling, particularly the knees and other large joints.
  • Facial palsy (loss of muscle tone or droop on one or both sides of the face)
  • Intermittent pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones
  • Heart palpitations or an irregular heart beat (Lyme carditis)
  • Episodes of dizziness or shortness of breath
  • Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
  • Nerve pain
  • Shooting pains, numbness, or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Problems with short-term memory

Also, when you remove a tick always make a note of where it was and monitor the spot for a few days.

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    I would add that no way of detection of the lyme disease is reliable. For this reason, the recommendation is currently that if you have any symptoms of it, and in particular the lyme spots, you are ordered a (quite strong and heavy) antibiotic treatment.
    – yo'
    Dec 5, 2017 at 22:23
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    "Also, when you remove a tick always make a note of where it was and monitor the spot for a few days." Save the tick! The ticks can be tested for Lyme Disease cheaply and easily. Sometimes for free. Dec 6, 2017 at 2:09
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    "If it looks anything like a dot surrounded by a ring, go see a doctor" How about just, "If you're worried enough about it to ask someone else (even people on the Internet), go see a doctor"?
    – jpmc26
    Dec 7, 2017 at 1:54

That definitely sounds like a tick bite from a lyme disease infested tick. Get to the doctor ASAP and they can give you an antibiotic that can kill the disease before it becomes a long term problem.


To answer the question asked, no, ticks don't do test bites. They walk on your body until they find a spot where the epidermis is thin enough, then just go for it. You won't find a tick latched onto the heel of your foot, the cap of your knee or other areas of thick skin. It takes a fairly long time for a tick to reach a blood vessel, so test bites would significantly hinder the chances of success before getting brushed off.


No, they don't. They scrape the skin lightly with their chelicerae as a part of the biting process, but once they start the process of biting, they are firmly anchoring themselves into place, as a result of the hook-like "teeth" that cover their mouthparts.

There's a decent explanation of the process with an accompanying video here: Here’s What Happens When A Tick Bites You.

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