Have you ever asked anyone for advice on how to remove a ticks? Don't believe a word you hear!

I recently had a tick bite. And for every bit of folklore advice I received I found a competent source saying that the advice is dead wrong.

There are a LOT of misconceptions about ticks and tick removal out there. Even among professionals!

The Bottom Line:
Do NOT use alchohol, nail polish, hot matches, petroleum jelly, twisting movements or other methods to remove ticks.

These methods may they may make matters worse. They can actually irritate and traumatize ticks stimulating it to release additional saliva or causing them to regurgitate gut contents, which may include the Lyme Disease bacteria, thereby increasing the chances of transmitting the pathogen .

These methods of tick removal should be avoided!

A number of tick removal devices have been marketed, but none are better than a plain set of fine tipped tweezers.

Lets take a closer look at some of these suggestions...

Never twist a tick to remove it, because this can leave part of the tick in your skin.

Other popular--but bad--tick removal advice includes trying to suffocate them by swabbing them with Vaseline, gasoline or nail polish, or holding a hot match to their butts. These methods just piss them off.

Taken from: http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mtickoff.html


Ineffective or Dangerous Methods of Removing Ticks: What Not to Do

Do not use sharp forceps.
Do not crush, puncture, or squeeze the tick's body.
Do not apply substances such as petroleum jelly, gasoline, lidocaine (Xylocaine), etc., to the tick.
Do not apply heat with a match or hot nail.
Do not use a twisting or jerking motion to remove the tick.
Do not handle the tick with bare hands.

Taken from: http://www.aafp.org/afp/20020815/643.html

Further References:

1)
http://kidshealth.org/parent/general/body/tick_removal.html

watch the little animation!


2)
http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/lyme/spotlight/

Study these little images:

Remove attached ticks with tweezers.

1. Use fine-tipped tweezers or shield your fingers with a tissue, paper towel, or rubber gloves (see image, step 1).
2. Grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible and pull upward with steady, even pressure (see image, step 2). Do not twist or jerk the tick; this may cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin.
3. Do not squeeze, crush, or puncture the body of the tick.
4. After removing the tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite site and wash your hands with soap and water.
5. Save the tick for identification in case you become ill. This may help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis. Place the tick in a plastic bag and put it in your freezer.

 

3)
http://www.aldf.com/Lyme.asp

how to remove a tick:

If you DO find a tick attached to your skin, there is no need to panic. Not all ticks are infected, and studies of infected deer ticks have shown that they begin transmitting Lyme disease an average of 36 to 48 hours after attachment. Therefore, your chances of contracting LD are greatly reduced if you remove a tick within the first 24 hours. Remember, too, that the majority of early Lyme disease cases are easily treated and cured.

To remove a tick, follow these steps:

1. Using a pair of pointed precision* tweezers, grasp the tick by the head or mouthparts right where they enter the skin. DO NOT grasp the tick by the body.
2. Without jerking, pull firmly and steadily directly outward. DO NOT twist the tick out or apply petroleum jelly, a hot match, alcohol or any other irritant to the tick in an attempt to get it to back out. These methods can backfire and even increase the chances of the tick transmitting the disease.
3. Place the tick in a vial or jar of alcohol to kill it.
4. Clean the bite wound with disinfectant.

*Keep in mind that certain types of fine-pointed tweezers, especially those that are etched, or rasped, at the tips, may not be effective in removing nymphal deer ticks. Choose unrasped fine-pointed tweezers whose tips align tightly when pressed firmly together.


4)
http://www.lyme.org/ticks/removal.html

Tick Removal

Tick's mouthparts have reverse harpoon-like barbs, designed to penetrate and attach to skin. Ticks secrete a cement-like substance that helps them adhere firmly to the host. If you find that you or your pet has been bitten by a tick, it is important to remove it properly.

Tick Removal Procedure:

1) Use fine-point tweezers to grasp the tick at the place of attachment, as close to the skin as possible.
2) Gently pull the tick straight out.
3) Place the tick in a small vial labeled with the victim's name, address and the date.
4) Wash your hands, disinfect the tweezers and bite site.
5) Mark your calendar with the victim's name, place of tick attachment on the body, and general health at the time.
6) Call your doctor to determine if treatment is warranted.
7) Watch the tick-bite site and your general health for signs or symptoms of a tick-borne illness. Make sure you mark any changes in your health status on your calendar.
8) If possible, have the tick identified/tested by a lab, your local health department, or veterinarian.

If the mouthparts break off in the skin - should I dig them out?

We have heard two competing opinions about this.

One viewpoint states that the mouthparts can cause a secondary infection, and should be removed as if it was a splinter.

Another viewpoint was shared with us by a pediatrician in a hyperendemic area. He states that parents can do more harm by trying to hold down a child and dig out the mouthparts with a needle. He instructs his families to leave the mouthparts, and that they will come out on their own as the skin sloughs off.

CAUTIONS:
* If you must remove the tick with your fingers, use a tissue or leaf to avoid contact with infected tick fluids.
* Do not prick, crush or burn the tick as it may release infected fluids or tissue.
* Do not try to smother the tick (e.g. petroleum jelly, nail polish) as the tick has enough oxygen to complete the feeding.

 

5)
http://www.cdc.gov/nasd/docs/d000801-d000900/d000846/d000846.html

FINDING AND REMOVING TICK

Ticks dont fly, jump, or drop from trees. They inhabit shrubby vegetation (nymphs: 4-6" vegetation; adults: waist-high vegetation) and wait fr an animal to brush by. They then grasp the animals fur or skin, and typically crawl up the leg. Ticks will wander on the body for 30-60 minutes before they insert their mouthparts and begin to feed. Infected Deer Ticks must feed for at least 12 - 24 Hours before they can begin to transmit the Lyme Disease bacteria. Therefore you should rem ve ticks as soon as possible. Take a shower after outdoor activity and check your body thoroughly, paying close attention to the armpits, the groin, and neck. Use the buddy system! Look for ticks every night, especially if you have young children.

Remove ticks with tweezers only (bent, "needle-nose" tweezers are best). Do not use alchohol, nail polish, hot matches, petroleum jelly, or other methods to remove ticks. These methods may actually traumatize ticks causing them to regurgitate gut contents, which may include the Lyme Disease bacteria.


6)
http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/rmsf/Prevention.htm

To remove attached ticks, use the following procedure:

1. Use fine-tipped tweezers or shield your fingers with a tissue, paper towel, or rubber gloves (Figure 17). When possible, persons should avoid removing ticks with bare hands.

2. Grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible and pull upward with steady, even pressure (Figure 18). Do not twist or jerk the tick; this may cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin. (If this happens, remove mouthparts with tweezers. Consult your health care provider if infection occurs.)

3. Do not squeeze, crush, or puncture the body of the tick because its fluids (saliva, body fluids, gut contents) may contain infectious organisms.

4. After removing the tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite site and wash your hands with soap and water.

5. Save the tick for identification in case you become ill. This may help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis. Place the tick in a plastic bag and put it in your freezer. Write the date of the bite on a piece of paper with a pencil and place it in the bag.