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Some have grown up learning that the best way to remove a tick found on one’s skin is with matches, nail polish or tape. But in fact the only tool needed to safely remove a tick is a clean pair of fine-tip tweezers.
If you find a tick on your skin, it is first important not to panic, according to Dr. Bobbi Pritt, the director of Clinical Parasitology laboratory at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
“You want to grasp the tick as close as you can to the skin and then pull it out in a single, continuous motion,” said Pritt.
The goal is to use the tweezers to completely remove the tick from the skin. By pulling out the tick in one swift motion, taking measures not to crush or rip it, you will ensure that the whole tick is out of your body.
Pritt urges outdoors lovers to keep in mind that the greatest peak of tick borne illness is in the spring and early summer. During these seasons, immature ticks are in their largest numbers. Immature ticks are dangerous because they are very hard to spot due to their incredibly small size.
Pritt warns against the “folklore remedies” mentioned above as they increase the chance of crushing the tick, which increases the chance that the tick's potentially harmful contents will be released into your body. These harmful contents can cause inflammation and increase the risk of infection. By damaging the tick, you are potentially putting yourself at risk.
Sometimes it does happen that part of the tick is left in the skin, but that’s not cause for alarm just yet. Usually it's not an issue if a tick is not fully extracted as your body will extrude it on its own. But the impacted area of the body should be watched and you should keep an eye out for any rash that may form on that site.
It is important to remove the tick as quickly as possible after noticing it on the skin, according to Pritt. The longer the tick is on the skin, the higher the likelihood that a disease or infection will be transmitted.
It is not necessary to consult a doctor every time you find a tick on the skin, according to Pritt. You should visit a medical professional if you have been outside and begin to experience any symptoms such as a rash, fever, chills or body aches. In a case that the traditional bulls-eye lesion of Lyme disease appears, medical attention is especially recommended.
After removal, the area where the tick was found should be washed. Also, anyone that helped remove it should wash their hands.
After you’ve inspected for ticks, it’s a good practice to wash your clothes promptly and take a shower within a couple of hours of being outside, according to Richard Dolesh, the vice president for strategic initiatives at the National Recreation and Park Association. As ticks can live through the washing cycle, you want to dry your clothes on high heat, killing any tick that may still exist on clothing.
Discarding of the tick is up to personal preference, according to Pritt. If you want to fully get rid of the tick, its best to flush it down the toilet. If you are concerned and want to keep the tick to show to a medical professional, Pritt suggests putting the tick in a zip-lock bag and keeping it in the refrigerator.
Anyone removing ticks from pets should follow the same procedure outlined above.
For more safety and preparedness tips, visit AccuWeather.com/Ready.
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