If you find a tick adhered to your skin don’t panic. You likely won’t know how long it has been there. If you do. Great news. This will give your doctor and scientist important information on how best to treat you and if you know where in the woods or outdoor location you were when you discovered the tick bite that will also be helpful especially if the tick bite comes back from the laboratory testing positive for Lyme disease or one of the many co-infections of Lyme disease. This will provide invaluable information for researchers.
Do not remove the tick yet. You must be careful the tick is removed correctly or your new unwanted friend will leave you a wee gift — barbs or harpoons or further infection — and you don’t want to have either. If broken harpoon mouth pieces fester with an infection the potential for Lyme disease or other disease is great. I speak from experience, at least on more than one occasion. Wait to remove the tick until you can do so properly. While your instinct is to immediately brush off the pesky little beast. Wait.
First, do not touch the tick or brush it off with your hands. That tick it is a vile creature but the worst thing you could do is flick it off or use your hands to grab hold and rip it from your body. Doing so, places you at further risk of infection or the spread of toxins and other potential pathogens to others. If you weren’t the one with the original tick bite, you risk infecting others including yourself. You need or should have the proper tools with you including a pair of Nitrile gloves, (these are the very same used by your doctor or hospital staff and are latex free and can be purchased at any pharmacy along with alcohol swabs).
Supplies one should always have on hand if living in an areas prone to ticks
- TIC-Kit (This is a great kit on the market that anyone who loves the outdoors should carry with them) I also have more information on the tick kit my doctor uses and recommends in a post following this one. And a bit more info about the organisms the kit tests for.
- Needle Nose Tweezers
- *Nitrile gloves (Always wear gloves when removing ticks keep with TIC-Kit)
- Alcohol Rubs or swabs
- Small Glass or plastic Vial or Similar small container
- Ziploc Freezer Bags
How to Remove a tick
- Put on your pair of Nitrile gloves, or use plastic bags if you have no gloves. Insert your hands into the bags. The reason for the bags on your hands is to reduce the risk of spreading endotoxins (these are toxins released when a bacterium ruptures or disintegrates. It can be extremely toxic), or other pathogens. The bags can also be used if you don’t have a tiny vial to store the tick inside.
- Step One: Use needle nose tweezers, tweezers in TIC-kit, or fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. See below Step One.
Step One Step Two
- Step Two: Pull upward with steady, even pressure as shown in Step Two above. Don’t twist, jerk, or squeeze the tick. The mouth-parts could break off or worse remain under the skin. Squeezing may cause the tick to explode or leak infectious blood on your skin or cause the barbs on the mouth-parts to remain in the skin and spread toxins. If this happens, you will need medical attention to make sure all the mouth-parts are removed. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, you will need to see a doctor. The ER or Urgent care is probably your best option, as they should know what to do when you get a tick bite. If they don’t. It is up to you to explain it to them. And make sure the doctor or nurse does not destroy the tick. You will need it to send to the lab for analysis.
- After the tick has been is removed, make sure it is well cared for prior to packing it for analysis. If you have a TIC-Kit place it in plastic bag provided until you return home follow any the instructions inside the TIC-Kit. If you don’t have a kit either place the tick into a small plastic bag vial or set it on a covered surface with a few paper towels in case the tick explodes. Wash the bite area thoroughly with soap and water then apply rubbing alcohol.
- NEVER place tick in a sealed bag or container and flush the tick down the toilet! This is careless and furthermore if it doesn’t clog your toilet it will eventually end up in a stream or stormwater basin to and could potentially spread further disease. I have seen instructions to this very task on a several blog pages and I cringe. Never crush a tick with your fingers, burn with a match, place oil, or place petroleum oil on the tick. It will only cause the tick to burrow into your skin further. You risk being infected with whatever pathogen the tick may carry. Tick bites are serious and should be taken seriously.
- Once you have the tick out you will need to do two things the first is to analyzed the tick for disease. I have discussed this in separate post.
- Secondly, you will want to see a doctor as soon as possible to get at least one dose or more of Doxycycline to ward off potential infection. If you are at the ER or Urgent care they should give you a shot of Doxycycline to ward off any infections that tick may carry and a prescription for at least two weeks. This is by no means enough antibiotics to rid your body of Lyme if the test come back positive, but at least you will have a jump start to your treatment. If the tick tests positive for any other diseases, you will also have a jump start on treatment. It is imperative you seek treatment as soon as possible. Lyme Disease is a serious medical condition and if not treated properly can have detrimental effects to your body and health. Therefore you must find a Lyme Literate Doctor as soon as possible to discuss treatment options. There is no cure for Lyme Disease. However, if treated early, the chances of the disease going into remission are good. And you will likely lead a normal life. However, stress is one aspect that must be avoided. For some reason stress and Lyme do not get along.
Thanks and good luck.