For most people who like to spend their time outdoors, the risks of a tick bite are nothing new. With the rise of tickborne disease in cities, the pests might be a problem for even more people.
Maybe you like to spend weekends hiking with friends and family. Or, even just riding your bikes along scenic trails in the countryside. You know that there’s a chance that you’ll find a tick on your clothes here or there, but are not worried about it because they hardly ever get on you.
Then, you get home and see a tick on the back of your knee.
In a panic, you try to brush it off firmly to see if it’s attached, but it’s too late, and he’s already burrowed into your skin. How do they do that anyway?
Ticks have two parts in their mouths with extremely small barbs on them. They are called hypostome and are used to hold your skin while they bite and dig deeper under the epidermis. Much like other insects including mosquitoes, ticks break down your skin with a thick cement-like secretion to quench their thirst for your blood. Once they reach their food source, all they have to do is keep feeding.
So, how can you safely remove a tick that’s attached to you?
Some people think that ticks can be removed by freezing it, slathering it with oil, nail polish, or petroleum jelly. Another common theory is that you can take it off by burning it with a match.
Please don’t try to attempt any of these.
First, you could burn yourself, and using oil or petroleum jelly will make the tick too slippery to pull out, but most importantly, these tricks will make things worse. Any one of these will cause the tick to burrow deeper into your skin, which is the exact opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish, right?
First, gather everything that you’ll need – a sharp pair of tweezers, a cotton ball, rubbing alcohol, a tissue, tape (optional), and a very steady hand. Then, follow these steps:
- Disinfect the bite and wipe the tick and surrounding area with the rubbing alcohol. If you don’t have the alcohol, you can use warm soapy water.
- Next, position the tweezers as close to the head of the tick as you can. Be sure to use the sharp tweezers and not the angled-edge tweezers. These will not give you the precision that you need to pull out the tick.
- Now, pull the tick out with a slow, firm pull. This helps it release its grip that it has on your skin.
- Clean the tick bite again.
- Put the tick on the tissue temporarily, then throw it away. You can either wrap the tick in a piece of tape to suffocate the bug, or you can flush it down the toilet.
Do not squeeze the tick with your hands. This spreads the germs that ticks carry. If you can’t get the entire tick out, try to go a little deeper to reach the head.
Removing a tick is important to prevent you from getting Lyme and other diseases transmitted by these pests. The United States could be at risk of an untreatable form of lyme disease and we still lack any vaccine to prevent the illness.
That doesn’t mean you can’t stay proactive against the pests and those diseases they carry. You may want to carry a roll of tape with you in the car in case you see a tick crawling on you. This way, he doesn’t have a chance!
Written for Passport Health by Sabrina Cortes. Sabrina is an experienced Copywriter and Founder/Owner of Write with Sabrina.com. She is dedicated to helping small businesses create engaging and relevant SEO material that reflects the brand and its values while maintaining a consistent voice. Sabrina lives with her family in the breathtaking mountains of western North Carolina.