Thinking about finding a tick in my skin sends shivers up and down my spine. But it’s that time of the year when families are spending more time outdoors. Summer is the perfect time for backyard barbecues, pool parties, bonfires and hiking trips. It’s also the perfect time for a tick to find a host!
With all of the deadly diseases ticks carry, it’s extremely important to check yourself, your kids and your pets for ticks after spending time outside. These small creatures can end up infecting you with one of several serious illnesses.
Take preventative measures to avoid ticks when spending time outdoors. Keep your grass cut, keep wood piled neatly stacked and stay away from wooded areas. If you must spend time in the woods, wear long pants, long sleeve shirts and other protective clothing. If you happen to find a tick burrowed into your skin, make sure you know how to properly remove it.
How NOT To Remove A Tick
1. Do Not Twist The Tick
Using fine-tipped tweezers is one way to remove a tick from your skin, but be careful not to twist the tweezers. Twisting while pulling may cause the tick’s body to break off from it’s head or mouth.
2. Do Not Burn The Tick
You may have heard that the best way to remove and kill a tick is to burn it. This is a myth. The New York Times explains, “traumatizing the insect with heat or too much force also carries the risk of making it regurgitate, further increasing the likelihood of infection.” Not to mention the risk of burning yourself!
3. Do Not Drown The Tick
Trying to drown the tick using gasoline or rubbing alcohol is never a good idea. It could take hours for the tick to actually suffocate, giving it more time to pass on a deadly infection or disease.
4. Do Not Paint The Tick
The CDC cautions the public to “avoid folklore remedies such as “painting” the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly.” When you find a tick buried in your skin, the best thing to do is to remove it as quickly as possible.
The Right Way To Remove A Tick
1. Use Fine-Tipped Tweezers
It’s important to use the right tools when removing a tick. The CDC explains that the most effective way to remove a tick is to use fine-tipped tweezers. You can also use a tool known as the Tick Twister. While you should never twist with tweezers, the Tick Twister is designed to cradle the body of the tick without putting pressure on its mouth or abdomen. Twisting it in one direction frees the tick from your skin safely and effectively.
2. Grab The Tick As Close To The Skin’s Surface As Possible
Use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers to grab the tick as close to your skin as possible. A tick enters the skin using their mouth, so pulling close to your skin will help you get a hold of its mouth instead of its body. Be careful not to squeeze the tick around its middle! You could end up pushing the infected fluid into your body.
3. Pull Upward Using Steady Pressure
Once your tweezers are in place, gently pull upward away from the skin. Be careful not to twist or jerk the tweezers. If the body of the tick happens to break off from it’s head or mouth, remove the remaining parts using the tweezers.
4. Clean The Bite And Wash Your Hands
After you’ve successfully removed the tick from your skin, wash your hands thoroughly and clean the bite area. The CDC suggests soap and warm water, an iodine scrub or rubbing alcohol.
5. Properly Dispose Of The Tick
According to the CDC, the correct way to dispose of a tick is to flush it down the toilet, wrap it in tape, submerse it in alcohol or place it in a sealed bag or container and throw it away.
6. Watch For Symptoms
After you’ve removed the tick from your skin, cleaned the area and disposed of it properly, make sure you watch for any symptoms from your tick bite. Common symptoms can include a fever and a rash. If you notice any symptoms, see a health care professional right away.