How not to remove a tick

A recent Snopes posting debunks the myth of removing ticks via cotton ball covered with liquid soap (and other invalid methods), So if you now know how not to remove a tick, would you want to know how (and why) you should remove it?

First, the spurious email whcih lead to the Snopes posting:

A School Nurse has written the info below — good enough to share — And it really works!!”I had a pediatrician tell me what she believes is the best way to remove a tick. This is great, because it works in those places where it’s some times difficult to get to with tweezers: between toes, in the middle of a head full of dark hair, etc.

Apply a glob of liquid soap to a cotton ball. Cover the tick with the soap-soaked cotton ball and swab it for a few seconds (15-20), the tick will come out on it’s own and be stuck to the cotton ball when you lift it away.

This technique has worked every time I’ve used it (and that was frequently), and it’s much less traumatic for the patient and easier for me.

Unless someone is allergic to soap, I can’t see that this would be damaging in any way. I even had my doctor’s wife call me for advice because she had one stuck to her back and she couldn’t reach it with tweezers. She used this method and immediately called me back to say, ‘It worked!'”

And now some information from the article on how/why you should remove a tick:

However, those in the know about tick removal warn against these home remedies. Countermeasures of such nature do little to encourage a tick to detach from skin and in fact may make matters worse by stimulating the creature to release additional saliva or regurgitate its gut contents, acts that increase the chance of its transmitting a pathogen to its host.. . .

As to how to remove a tick:

  • With tweezers, grasp the parasite close to the skin and pull it straight out.
  • If you must use your fingers rather than tweezers for this operation, cover them with a tissue during the procedure and wash them after the tick has been dispatched.
  • Do not twist or jerk the tick; this could cause the creature’s head to separate from its body, leaving its mouthparts lodged in your skin.
  • Wash the bite with antiseptic and place the tick inside a plastic container marked with the date in case it is later needed for verification of illness.
  • Nail polish and petroleum jelly are not good ideas for tick removal because the tick has enough air to complete its feeding before dropping off.

Also in the article are tips for avoiding ticks and reminders to check yourself, your children, and your pets after going someplace you might be exposed to ticks.

[tags]Snopes, Ticks[/tags]