All you ever wanted to know about ticks (but were too afraid to ask)…
There are only two safe ways to remove an attached tick:
With fine-tipped Tweezers or with a tick-removal Tool Using your fingers fingers for tick removal is likely to compress the body of the tick, forcing fluids from inside the tick (lots of nasties) into your bloodstream or that of the person or animal it is attached to. If these fluids contain disease, this increases the likelihood of a serious infection resulting.
How a tick is removed is extremely important. Incorrect removal can result in: The tick’s mouth parts being left behind in the skin, Compression of the tick’s body, Puncture of the tick’s body, Injury and irritation to the tick.
“So what …..Why is this a problem? ” I hear you ask. Well leaving behind the tick’s mouth parts may very well result in infection, which, in severe cases can lead to abscesses and even septicaemia – which is potentially fatal..not a good day out by anybody’s standards.
Compressing the tick’s body may cause its internal fluids, yes..its saliva and stomach contents to be squeezed back into the bloodstream of the host, which dear reader is you ! (EWWWW!) and if the thought of a regurgitating parasite attached to your body wasn’t enough, how about the fact that these fluids may contain disease-causing organisms ? Puncturing the body of the tick may spill infective fluids onto the person or animal the tick is attached to, or onto the person removing the tick.
Simply causing irritation to the tick may also result in it regurgitating (vomiting) saliva and the blood meal that it has ingested. These fluids may contain disease-causing organisms and may result in the host…remember this is YOU….. contracting a serious infection.
Common incorrect ‘advice’
If you’re not careful you’ll leave the head in! – Ticks don’t have heads. Their mouth parts are directly attached to their body. Only a barbed feeding tube enters the skin.
Ticks can be suffocated so they drop off on their own – Incorrect. A tick breathes through holes in its sides, and it only breathes around 1 – 15 times per hour anyway. Use of alcohol, aftershave, oils, paraffin, vaseline, petrol or nail polish, to try to suffocate a tick, is likely to cause it to regurgitate saliva and gut contents……. into you !! Whilst this method may cause the tick to drop off, it may also increase the risk of disease-causing organisms entering the bloodstream of the host. Attempting to burn or freeze off a tick will have much the same result as above. Ticks don’t have heads remember !
If you turn the tick clockwise / anti-clockwise it will come off more easily! – Guess what ?…….Ticks are not screw threaded. They don’t come in 3/8 whitworth… The barbs on the mouth parts can be released by a turning action but this should only be performed with a tool designed for twisting (e.g. The O’Tom Tick Twister a good addition to your first aid kit). Twisting with tweezers, forceps or fingers is likely to exert too much pressure to the mouth parts and they may break off…..
You cant catch a tick by surprise either and nipping off a tick with your fingers only cause it to regurgitate. Ticks have back-facing barbs on their mouth parts and most hard-tick species cement themselves into the skin with special saliva.
For more information visit http://www.bada-uk.org/