When we hear the word 'Tick', we develop a fear for one of the worst diseases known as 'Lyme disease', that instantly strikes our thoughts. The bacteria called Borrelia burgdoferi causes the dreaded Lyme disease that takes 1 to 2 weeks to exhibit the symptoms. Lyme disease is transmitted through the bite of tick.
There are over 200 types of ticks in America and they are most active during spring and summer. Of these, deer tick bite transmits Borrelia burgdoferi and about one-third of deer ticks carry Lyme disease. The Dermacentor spp. ticks are carriers of another grave disease, the Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Thus, the fear of contracting a disease grips the minds of people who are bitten by a tick.
In order to avoid a hypersensitivity reaction and to avoid the bacteria from entering the body, it is very important to take utmost precaution for removing embedded tick. Many times children and even adults bitten by ticks become nervous. It is very important to remain calm and remove the tick as soon as possible. One can get infected with Lyme disease only if the tick is not removed in the first 24 to 36 hours after attachment.
How to Remove an Embedded Tick
It is seen that ticks can attach themselves to any part of the human body. Ticks prefer to attach themselves in areas of thin skin like groin, armpits, ankles, scalp, etc. The following procedure will help you understand the various steps involved in embedded tick removal from human.
- The first thing to do is calm down. If someone is bitten, make the person relax and overcome anxiety. If you yourself are bitten, do not let fear cloud your mind and with a calm mind follow the following steps.
- You need to examine the site of the bite very carefully. Observe the size of the tick. If the tick is engorged, that is, fat and round, it means it has been there for quite sometime.
- Now, take a pair of tweezers or forceps and grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Slowly, pull up the pest up in a steady, upward motion. Keep pulling gently, till the tick mouth separates out from the skin.
- Make sure you pull gently and firmly. Do not jerk off the tick as the embedded head may remain logged in the skin.
- Once you have carefully separated the tick from the skin, put it in a safe container and do not touch it. This will be useful as the doctor may need it to identify the species and treat the victim accordingly.
- Dip a clean cotton in alcohol and wipe off the area to disinfect it. Clean the tweezers too with alcohol, so that it becomes sterilize. Wash your hands with a disinfectant soap.
How to Remove an Embedded Tick's Head
It may so happen that the embedded head of the tick remains logged in the skin. Do not panic. Just follow the steps mentioned below.
- If only the hypostome remains, it does not carry any risk of infection. At the most, it could cause irritation of the skin.
- To remove the hypostome and its parts, you should use sterilized needle or tweezers and remove them just as you would remove a splinter out of the skin.
- If the mouth along with the salivary glands still attached to it remain in the skin, one needs to be extra careful. This is because there are chances the pathogenic bacteria can gain entry into the skin due to squeezing of the salivary gland.
- Carefully try to pull the mouth part with a tweezer. If you are not sure or find it difficult to remove the mouth, visit a doctor for help. There is no point in taking risk at this time.
Dos and Don'ts for Embedded Tick Removal from Humans
You need to keep in mind these tips regarding removing embedded tick from the body, as it will help prevent transfer of the bacteria into the body.
- Never ever touch the tick with heat, lighted cigarette, burnt match, Vaseline, nail polish remover or any other chemicals. This will just irritate the tick and make it back out of the wound. This will cause it to inject a burst of saliva that lubricates its mouth parts and helps pull out the backward-facing barbs. This saliva contains the bacteria for Lyme disease or Rocky mountain spotted fever that may lead to an infection in the victim.
- Always gently pull out the tick and never remove it by rotating the tick body. This will tear off the ticks body from its embedded mouth and the mouth parts will remain embedded in the skin.
- You should never use your fingers instead of tweezers. If the tick is engorged and if you squeeze it with your fingers, the blood and saliva containing the bacteria will be pushed into the wound, resulting in an infection.
- After safely removing embedded tick, wash the bite area with an antiseptic. Use alcohol, as it will make the exposed tissues swell up and flush out the wound. Thus, all the bacteria that may be present in the wound will be killed by alcohol.
- After the embedded tick removal, place the tick in a small container that can be sealed. Place a wet cotton in the container that will prevent desiccation of the tick body. Make sure you label the time and date of tick removal. This will be very useful for doctors to identify the tick and treat the victim with correct medications.
- You should get yourself or the patient evaluated by a doctor, even after successful removal of embedded tick. This will minimize the chances of any possible infection.
- If you are thinking of getting rid of ticks, never flush it down the toilet. It is not known whether ticks can escape the septic tanks or no. Therefore, wrap the tick in a tissue or cotton soaked in alcohol and burn it.
- You can even wrap the tick in a piece of tape, so that it can never escape or drown it in a container filled with alcohol and dispose off the contents.
You can avoid traveling to tick-prone areas and ask children not to enter deep grassy areas as ticks may bite them. If you are living in an area prone to ticks, you should always wear clothing that covers your arms and legs. Make sure you fasten your cuffs and pants are tucked into the socks and boots. You should always check yourself and children after coming home from outdoors for presence of ticks. You can even apply a tick repellent that contains DEET and continue reapplication every 1 to 2 hours for maximum protection.
If at all you or someone around you is bitten by a tick, do not panic. Never squeeze out the tick and promptly remove the tick as mentioned above in the steps involving embedded tick removal. You should seek immediate medical help after removing the tick, even if you do not find the mouth parts left engorged in the skin. You can follow the method discussed in the preceding paragraphs to remove embedded ticks on dogs, cats and other pet body.
Always remember, the longer the tick remains embedded in the body, it will prove to be a very dangerous situation for the victim. Therefore, remain alert and promptly carry out steps for embedded tick removal.