Help Us Help Others:

Ticks, like mosquitos, are a part of the natural world, and if you spend any time outdoors, there’s a good chance that sooner or later one will decide you make for a tasty meal. Here are some tips & guidelines on how to remove a tick and what to do if you’re bitten by a tick.

What to do if you’re bitten by a tick

1. If the tick is still latched onto the skin, the first thing you want to do is remove it. The longer it stays latched on and feeding, the greater the risk that it could transmit an infection. (See the guidelines below for removing a tick.)

2. Squeeze gently around the bite site to push out any coagulated blood (which might also push out any recently introduced bacteria), and then wash the bite site thoroughly with an antibacterial disinfectant or plain old bleach water.

3. Call your doctor and consider scheduling an appointment within the next few days. If there is an infection, antibiotics are most effective when started early. so as a precautionary measure, it’s now recommended that a course of antibiotics be given. Many doctors, however, are still working from outdated information. They may want to take a wait-and-see approach, or wait for a positive test first. Unfortunately, it can take up to to 6 weeks for the biomarkers of Lyme disease to reach detectable levels in the bloodstream, and by that time the infection is already well entrenched. So in spite of what we say elsewhere about the overuse of antibiotics and why it’s best to avoid them, this may be one of those few situations where the potential long-term consequences of Lyme disease may tilt that tradeoff in favor of precaution.

How to remove a tick

There are right ways and wrong ways to remove a tick. Here are some guidelines:

1. DO NOT try to burn it off. Not only does this run a high risk of burning your child in the process, but it’s often ineffective, causing a tick to seize in its latched position.

2. Ticks don’t do well in cold, so holding an ice cube against its body will sometimes cause a tick to release its grip (without burning your child in the process).

3. You can cover the tick completely and the area around it in a healthy slather of petroleum jelly or Vaseline. Deprived of oxygen, the tick may decide to let go and try to work its way back up to the surface.

4. Using a set of tweezers, grab firmly around the head of the tick and gently twist. This may dislodge the tick’s pinchers on its own, and most will let go before the force becomes so strong that it rips their mandibles off.

If you’re not having any success removing a tick on your own, take your child to their local pediatrician. Keep in mind that most ticks will dislodge on their own after an hour or so of engorging themselves.

See also…

Help Us Help Others: