Almost everyone finds a tick on themselves, or their child. So, what do you do once you find it? Most people panic. If you are persistent in checking for ticks when you come in from outside, there is no need to worry. Not all ticks carry disease and the risk of obtaining Lyme disease if reduced greatly if you find and remove the tick within the first 36 hours after the little guy latched on.
Here are some tips on how to remove a tick properly:
- Using tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible.
- Gently pull the tick in a steady, upward motion.
- Wash the area with a disinfectant.
When trying to remove a tick from a person or animal:
- DO NOT touch the tick with your hands.
- DO NOT squeeze the body of the tick as this may increase your risk of infection.
- DO NOT put alcohol, nail polish remover or Vaseline on the tick.
- DO NOT put a hot match on the tick in an effort to make it “back out.”
- DO NOT use your fingers to remove the tick.
The above methods usually do not work and only increase the likelihood the tick will transmit Lyme disease if it is infected. By applying alcohol, nail polish remover, or a hot match to a tick can irritate it and cause it to regurgitate its gut contents into your skin. The contents of a tick can contain the Lyme disease-causing bacterium.
While removing a tick, if parts of the tick’s mouth break off and remain in the skin, don’t worry. These mouthparts alone cannot transmit Lyme disease. They will dry up and fall out by themselves in a few days, or you can remove them as you would a splinter.
After cleaning the area thoroughly, watch the site of the bite for the any change in the skin. A rash can appear anywhere form 3 to 30 days after the bite. The rash will usually be at least 2 inches in diameter initially and will gradually expand to several inches in size. Some may develop a rash smaller in size which is usually just a reaction to the bite itself and does not mean you have Lyme disease. If you develop a rash that is expanding in size and have flu-like symptoms, contact your health care provider immediately.