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Identifying the Bumps and Spots on Your Skin

Pet Care, continued from page 20

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Cherry angiomas are overgrowths of blood vessels that form raised red or purple bumps or spots. They are typically no more than one-eighth inch (three millimeters) across. They usually appear on the trunk. Noncancerous skin growths can be removed if they are unattractive or they rub against clothing and become irritated. Usually, they can be removed in a doctor’s office with a scalpel, scissors, liquid nitrogen, or a laser. Sometimes a local anesthetic is used. Some skin growths in older people are cancerous (malignant). That is, they invade other tissues and spread to other parts of the body. Skin should be checked periodically for changes. Certain changes should be reported to a doctor. (For more information, see “The ABCDs of Skin Self-Exams” on page 10). A doctor should thoroughly examine all of the skin once a year to check for new growths or changes in old growths. Sometimes a doctor removes a piece of a growth for examination under a microscope (biopsy). ■ Information contained in this article comes from The Merck Manuals. For more information, visit www.YourHealthNow.com/skindisorders or search The Merck Manual Home Edition.

the flea life cycle. Fortunately, the modern flea control products available from a veterinarian are long-lasting and effective against both adult fleas and their eggs and larvae.

Beware of Biting Ticks Ticks are small, bloodsucking pests that are most often picked up outdoors, especially in wooded areas. Ticks will bite and burrow their heads into the skin of a host animal, and can remain attached for several days. Several kinds of ticks can bite pets, and many carry infectious organisms that can transmit diseases. For example, deer ticks can transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, which often begins with a circular, flat, red rash after a tick bites and stays attached to the body for one or two days. The disease can cause arthritis, neurological symptoms, fatigue, and vomiting, but is easy to treat if caught early. For more on Lyme disease, see “Summer Rashes and Bites”, page 24. Dog and wood ticks can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever, symptoms of which include a rash, abdominal pain, headache, and high fever. The disease occurs mainly from March to September, most commonly in the Midwest and on the Southern Atlantic seaboard, and is potentially fatal;

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so those symptoms require urgent medical attention. Ticks are commonly found between the toes of a pet’s paws, behind or inside its ears, or between its legs. Ticks should be removed immediately. Grasp the tick with curved tweezers as close to the skin as possible and pull it directly out. The tick’s head, which may not come out with the body, also should be removed with the tweezers, because it can cause tenderness and swelling. Applying alcohol, fingernail polish, or a hot match are not effective methods and may cause the tick to spit infected saliva into the bite site. Once the tick has been removed, thoroughly clean the area to prevent an infection and spray an indoor insecticide on baseboards and crevices in the walls and floors. Pets that show possible symptoms of a tick-related illness – loss of appetite, weakness, an unsteady walk, vomiting, or fever – should be seen by a veterinarian. Products that are effective against both fleas and ticks are available from the veterinarian. Depending on the area of the country, a pet may need to be treated monthly throughout the year. ■

The contents of this article were adapted from The Merck Veterinary Manual, 9th Edition, published in 2005.

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