In the United States, tick-borne illnesses are on the rise: Since 2004, nine new diseases carried by bites from infected mosquitoes and ticks have been discovered or imported in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to Gaspare Geraci, M.D., Market Chief Medical Officer for AmeriHealth Caritas, a Medicaid managed care organization, a tick must be connected to you for 36 to 48 hours in order for you to contract a disease from it. “If you detect it within a day or two,” he continues, “you should be alright.” Tickborne infections can be avoided if you examine yourself, your family, and your pets on a frequent basis.
Using tweezers, remove it.
You just have to get in there and rip it out, no matter how disgusting it is.
“Take a deep breath and imagine it’s just a particle of lint, not an ugly monster with a bloated stomach and writhing legs,” advises Naline Lai, M.D., who co-runs the Two Peds in a Pod blog with Julie Kardos, M.D.
According to the CDC, the recommended measures for removing a tick are as follows:
- Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible with a pair of fine-tipped tweezers.
- Pull yourself straight up with even, steady pressure. “Press down on the skin on each side of the tick to keep it from pulling up when you pull it off,” Dr. Lai advises. “Any pinching feeling your youngster may experience is reduced as a result of this.”
- Using rubbing alcohol or soap and water, thoroughly clean the bite (and your hands).
The CDC advises against using “folklore cures” such as nail polish, petroleum jelly (Vaseline), and heat to lift a tick away from the skin since they rely on the insect detaching itself, which takes longer. “Anything that prolongs the removal of a tick is a terrible idea,” says Robert B. Kimsey, Ph.D., a tick expert at the University of California, Davis.
“Suffocating a tick is ineffective,” says Dr. Kardos. “Applying petroleum jelly or nail polish to a tick may cause it to become slippery and difficult to grab. And don’t try to burn a tick off – you’ll merely burn your child’s skin.”
What happens if a tick isn’t removed?
Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), and southern-tick-associated rash sickness (STARI) are all transmitted by ticks in some portions of the country, according to the CDC. While not every tick carries infections, leaving a tick on the skin for too long can raise the risk of transmission.
“In general, a tick adhering to you takes anywhere from a day and a half to two days or so to transfer any infections it may have,” Dr. Kimsey explains. “Once the tick connects to you, it starts ticking, and you should get rid of it as soon as possible.”
What is the best way to get a tick to let go?
You can’t, in a nutshell. “Ticks actually glue themselves in place as part of their first feeding process,” Dr. Kimsey adds. “The hard ticks that people are most concerned about don’t have the ability to back out on their own.”
Not only is it a poor idea to wait to get peppermint oil, dish soap, Vaseline, or whatever another home “remedy” the internet is now recommending for tick bites, but these “remedies” may not work as well as you think.
When you squeeze a tick, what happens?
Squeezing a tick may lead it to regurgitate additional viruses into the bite, however this fear may be unfounded.
Dr. Kimsey tried a series of informal experiments a while back to see if this was the case. He and a Harvard School of Public Health research researcher extracted engorged ticks from their hosts and probed them under a microscope using pencil erasers.
“They didn’t regurgitate, burst, or salivate any more than they were going to,” he explained.
What should you do if you remove a tick but the head remains?
What you conceive of as the tick’s “head” isn’t the head at all. “The mouthparts, essentially tick jaws,” Dr. Kimsey continues, “are left behind in the skin if anything gets left behind in the skin.”
The CDC recommends using clean tweezers to remove any remaining mouthparts, but if they don’t come out easily, leave it alone and let the skin recover. This is due to the fact that they are not contagious in the same manner that a tick is.
Dr. Kimsey states, “There are no diseases linked with tick jaws.” “The mouthparts will be rejected by your skin in the same manner as a splinter is rejected by a splinter.”
After you’ve gotten rid of a tick, what should you do next?
“Once the tick has been removed, dispose of it appropriately,” Dr. Geraci advises. “Flush it down the toilet or put it in a plastic bag where it won’t escape.”
Depending on where you reside, you may want to save a tick and get it recognised or tested. “There’s a lot of data out there today regarding where the prevalence of infected ticks is relatively high and low, and what kinds of ticks actually carry infections and which ones don’t,” Dr. Kimsey explains. “Make such a decision based on knowledge rather than panic.”
If you have any questions about tick borne illness in your area, talk to your healthcare provider, and, of course, contact your doctor right away if you develop a rash or fever within a few weeks of removing a tick, according to the CDC.
However, the redness and swelling that may appear a few hours after a tick bite aren’t always cause for alarm. It reveals that, similar to a mosquito bite, your body recognises the foreign proteins in tick saliva and uses an immune reaction to drain them out. “In actuality,” Dr. Kimsey explains, “that initial reaction to tick saliva occurs long before any viruses are transferred.” “It’s just your immune system doing its thing,” says the narrator.