How to remove ticks
Ideally, if you are going into an area – long grass and lots of plants and foliage – where you are likely to come across ticks, you should take precautions to minimise the risk of being bitten. You are most likely to find ticks in moist and humid areas, so be especially careful when you encounter those conditions. The way to avoid ticks is to:
- Wear long-sleeved clothing and long pants instead of shorts to
prevent your skin brushing up against the grass and plants where
the ticks live.
- Use an insect repellent that contains DEET.
- Check your clothing and skin for ticks after returning from hiking,
trekking or cycling in the wild.
- After checking your clothing, it’s advisable to shower as soon as
you can. Then inspect your whole body for ticks (including those hard-to-reach areas).
Of course, it is important to be vigilant and guard against tick bites but rest assured, that ticks do not carry a threat of imminent disease. What is more, there is no need to panic if you do get bitten by a tick as there are several tick-removal devices available and a common set of fine-tipped tweezers will easily remove a tick effectively.
How to remove a tick
- Using a pair of fine-tipped tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
- Pull upward using a steady and even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick as this can cause the mouth-part of it to break off and remain embedded in your skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
- After removing the tick make sure you clean the bite area and your hands thoroughly using alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
- Dispose of a live tick by submerging it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.
There are several folklore remedies that it is worth avoiding, these include “painting” the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly and using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Anything hot may burn your skin and you want the tick off your skin as soon as possible so you don’t want to wait for it to fall off. Just remove it as quickly as you can.
If you develop a rash or fever within a few weeks of removing a tick, be sure to see your doctor. Tell your doctor about the tick bite, when it occurred and where you think you acquired it.
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