How to Check for and Remove Ticks

Spring has sprung, and it’s time to go out into the great outdoors! Because May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month, however, it is important to proceed with caution. Each year, there are 300,000 new diagnoses of lyme disease in the United States. And not only can humans contract this dangerous disease, but our furry friends are also at risk of being bitten by the disease’s tiny carriers: ticks.

What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is contracted through the bite of ticks (usually “deer ticks”). Symptoms, which can take months to develop, can include all the signs of getting the flu: fever, muscle aches, chills, fatigue, nausea and joint pain. People usually think of the large, red, circular rash that sometimes accompanies a tick bite as a sign of potential Lyme disease infection—but not everyone who develops the disease also develops a rash.

In fact: most people who contract the disease are bitten by nymphal, or very young, ticks—so small that many folks don’t even know they’ve been bit in the first place. This is a problem because later stages of the disease can be very serious and can also often affect multiple bodily systems. Symptoms of advanced Lyme disease include cognitive impairment, mood problem, sleep disturbances and even neurological issues.

How can I prevent it?

If you are spending any time in outdoor areas with high grass and bushes, firewood or raking/playing in leaves, know that these areas are where ticks like to hang out. “Dressing defensively” is one way to deter ticks from attaching to your body: long sleeves, tucking in long pants into socks, tying back loose hair, and wearing a hat and tall boots.

Check your body well after being in these outdoor areas—especially the armpits, groin, hair and hairline, ears, belly button and back of the knees. Taking a shower immediately following an outdoor venture will help wash away any ticks who tagged along for the ride. After returning home, throw your hiking clothes in the dryer for 10 minutes (before washing) to kill any attached ticks.

Wearing tick repellent when hiking can also help. It is advised that repellents with DEET, picaridin or lemon eucalyptus oil are best. For dogs and cats: check with your veterinarian for safe topical treatments to apply year-long.

What do I do if I or my companion animal has been bitten by a tick?

If you notice a tick has attached to you or your pet, do NOT attempt to remove it with fire or Vaseline. The best method for removing a tick is to use sharp-tipped tweezers to grasp the head as close to the skin as possible. Slowly pull the tick straight out (do not twist or mash it). Disinfect the area. If the tick is still alive, you can have it tested for Lyme disease by placing it in a plastic bag or empty pill bottle (along with a green leaf or a small, damp piece of paper towel) and finding a testing site near you.

Keep you and your furry friends safe this season!

Photo credit: Thinkstock

54 comments

Marie W
Marie W6 days ago

Thanks.

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Cindy S
Cindy Smith5 months ago

thanks

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Past Member
Past Member 5 months ago

noted

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iskrica knezevic
iskrica knezevic5 months ago

Make good things for a better world possible.
Thank you!

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Danii P
Past Member 5 months ago

Thank you for sharing

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Danii P
Past Member 5 months ago

Thank you for sharing

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Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons5 months ago

Remove as quickly as possible.
https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/removing_a_tick.html

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Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons5 months ago

CDC does not recommend trying some trick to get the tick to release. Just pull the tick off a quickly as possible. The longer the tick is attached the greater risk of problems.

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Dennis Hall
Dennis H5 months ago

Proper Tick Removal -- The Liquid Soap Method -------

​Needed:
Liquid soap (preferably with natural ingredients),
cotton balls
or cotton -​
tipped swabs.



Put some liquid soap on a cotton ball (or a cotton-tipped swab to apply to less-accessible body parts like the ears, etc.)

Press the wetted part of the cotton ball on the tick and hold in place for ​30 seconds​
.

The tick will remove its head from the skin as a reaction to the soap.

Remove the cotton ball; the tick will have gotten entangled in the cotton.

Place the cotton with the tick in a sealed jar or bag. You may wish to retain it should you want to have it inspected for the presence of the Lyme bacteria.




Never handle a tick with bare hands. If necessary, use tweezers or gloves, sanitized after use.

Do not crush the tick after removing it.

Don’t flush the tick down the toilet as the tick may not be killed.

The CDC says a tick's head must be embedded in one's skin for 36-48 hours before the Lyme bacteria is transmitted to the human host; and says tweezers are the best way to remove the tick -- but that method has the body popping off, leaving the head still embedded and still capable of transmitting the bacteria without the body.

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Cindy S
Past Member 6 months ago

thanks

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