Tick saliva contains thousands of distinct proteins that collectively allow a tick to bite a human or other mammal, and then feed for days on end without causing pain or itching that would alert its host. Rather than just puncturing the skin, it uses chemical compounds in its saliva to damage tissue and create a “pool” of blood from which to feed. Other proteins in tick saliva suppress pain, itching, and inflammation. The tick has multiple compounds in its saliva associated with each function and will cycle through them to prevent the host’s immune system from successfully countering them.
- Rather than pierce the skin, ticks use special compounds to damage surrounding tissue and create a “lake of blood” for them to drain.
- Tick saliva can neutralize histamines, which both prevents itching and counters your body’s immune response.
- Ticks often have many different proteins available for similar purposes, and they will cycle through these proteins in order to prevent your immune system for adapting to them.
“Ticks use saliva to manipulate the body of their hosts so their bites stay painless, itchless, and as unobtrusive as a bug swelling with blood can be.”