April, 2012

How To Safely Remove a Tick

This video, courtesy of Dr. Ernie Murakami shows two tick removal methods that are safer than traditional means. Squeezing a tick with either fingers or tweezers in order to pull it off can cause a "backwash effect." This is the nicest phrase they could come up with to describe the contents of the tick's stomach being squished out into the bloodstream of its host.

These are two techniques used by Dr. Murakami himself in his office. The first method in the video involves injecting a solution beneath the epidermis. The second can easily be performed at home with just a plastic straw and a length of thread. To go straight to this technique, jump ahead to the 2:08 minute marker.

I get the heebie-jeebies watching this. I hate those buggers!

After the tick has been removed, they're very tricky to either kill or keep contained. In order to kill it, you can either cut it in half making sure to cut through the head, or you can submerge it in boiling water, rubbing alcohol, or acetone. If flushed down the toilet, they can sometimes crawl back up through the pipes.

To keep it contained so that it can later be sent out for testing, ziplock bags are insufficient. One of the best suggestions I've heard is to keep old prescription bottles with the child-proof seal around the house for this very purpose. Mason jars and air-tight tupperware containers also work well, but personally I wouldn't want my food in there again!

Though it's not a sure-fire means of prevention, applying rubbing alcohol to the area can reduce the chances of getting Lyme and other tick-borne bacteria. If the bacteria in question are still sitting on the surface of the wound and not already in the bloodstream, this can be very effective.

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Questions or Comments? Email Ginger at ginger.lemonlyme@gmail.com