It is one of the scariest, and certainly one of the grossest, parts of the summer season. You go for a lovely walk in the woods, enjoying the local wildlife and having a great time. You get home from your hike, sit down and suddenly discover that you have picked up an unwanted visitor – a bloodsucking tick.
The idea of having a bloated tick sucking your blood is disconcerting enough, but when you realize that these parasites carry some pretty serious diseases, the experience can be downright frightening. Ticks carry Lyme disease, but they are also host to a number of emerging diseases, many of them much more serious than Lyme.
If you discover a tick on your body, or on your children or pets, it is important to remove the parasite as quickly as possible. The sooner you remove the tick, the less likely you are to get sick from its bite. In order to remove a tick safely, you need to make sure you remove the mouth parts; after all, they are the parts that do the biting. Here are the steps you should take if your next walk in the woods yields an unwanted passenger.
- Use a pair of fine-tipped tweezers to carefully grasp the tick. Get the tweezers as close to the surface of your skin as possible.
- Use a steady upward pressure to pull the tick away from your skin. Steady pressure is key here; you should not jerk or twist the tick, since those motions could cause the mouth parts of the parasite to become dislodged and stuck in your skin.
- Carefully remove the mouth parts with the tweezers if they do become dislodged during the previous step. Use a steady pressure, and make sure you remove every part of the tick.
- Clean the spot where the tick had been with rubbing alcohol or a disinfectant. Watch the bite wound for signs of redness or swelling, especially the bull’s eye rash that could indicate Lyme disease.
- Place the tick in a container with a secure lid and take it to your doctor. Your doctor can test the tick for Lyme disease and other dangerous pathogens that could have been passed to you, or to your child or pet.
Dealing with a tick is never any fun, but knowing how to remove one safely and easily will give you extra peace of mind. Prevention is always the best defense, so be sure to spray yourself, and your pets, with a quality tick repellent before you spend any time in the woods. Also be sure to check your skin, and that of your kids and pets, carefully after every trip outside. Ticks can hide in even the smallest of spaces, and the sooner you find your parasitic passenger, the better.