Summer is the season of the tick, when these pests are in full swing. Not only are they out in abundance, but humans and pets are also spending more times outdoors in tick-prone areas. The majority of tick encounters are harmless, but because these pests carry several serious diseases, ticks should be handled with proper care and caution.
Chances are you’ve probably heard of dozens of suggestions of how to remove a tick. Unfortunately, many of these tactics can actually cause more harm or increase your chances of contracting a tick-borne disease. One common misconception is that heat should be applied to the tick in some way to cause it to release its grip. This is often suggested in the form of heating up a knife and touching it to the tick or striking a match and holding the end to it. Both of these options can cause a tick to burrow further into your skin, releasing disease-carrying saliva.
When it comes to proper removal of a tick, one of the first things to keep in mind is timeliness. The longer a tick is attached to your skin, the greater the chance it can transmit a disease. Therefore, it is important that you remove a tick as soon as you notice one. The safest way to remove a tick is by using a pair of tweezers, preferably with thin tips. Next, grasp the tick by the head, close to where it is attached to your skin and pull firmly but steadily. The goal is to remove the tick entirely without breaking off any of its mouthparts in your skin. Once the tick is removed, clean the area of skin. Your first instinct is probably to kill and dispose of the tick immediately. However, doctors recommend keeping the tick in a sealed container filled with rubbing alcohol. This will kill and disinfect the tick, but if you start to develop symptoms of a tick borne illness, you will have the tick available for identification and testing. After removal, monitor the site for a month for a rash, sore or bumps. Check back next week for signs and symptoms of tick borne diseases.