Remove ticks safely

May 07, 2000|By ANDREA ROWLAND

Tick mouths contain reverse harpoon-like barbs, designed to penetrate and attach to skin, and the parasites secrete a cement-like substance that helps them adhere firmly to the host.

It's important to remove ticks properly.

- Use fine-point tweezers to grasp the tick at the place of attachment, as close to the skin as possible.

- Gently pull the tick straight out.

- Place the tick in a small vial labeled with the victim's name and address and the date.

- Wash your hands. Disinfect the tweezers and the bite site.

- Mark your calendar with the victim's name, place of tick attachment on the body, and general health at the time.

- Call your doctor to determine if treatment is warranted.

- Watch the tick-bite site for a bullseye-shaped rash, and note any flu-like symptoms. These symptoms are often indicative of Lyme disease.


- If possible, have the tick identified and tested by a lab, your local health department, or a veterinarian.

- If tick mouth parts break off in the skin, some health experts advocate removing them like you would a splinter to prevent secondary infection. Others say the mouth parts will come out on their own as the skin sloughs off. Consult your doctor.

- Use a tissue or leaf to remove ticks if tweezers are not available.

- Do not prick, crush or burn the tick as it may release infected fluids or tissue.

- Do not try to smother the tick with such substances as petroleum jelly or nail polish because the tick will still have enough oxygen to complete the feeding.


Also see:

-- Tips help win the fight against ticks

-- Tick season brings Lyme disease threat

-- Quick tick facts

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