It’s a beautiful holiday weekend. I’m sure many of you are outside, getting the yard ready for summer. I’m also sure that several of you will be calling me on Tuesday morning because you got bitten by a tick.
Here’s how to deal with a tick bite. First of all- prevention is key. Wearing long pants with the cuffs tucked into socks (I know, I know. Not very attractive.) is the best way to prevent a bite. Check for ticks every night.
If you find a tick, remove it with a pair of pointy tweezers. Grasp the head of the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull the tick off in one smooth motion. Here is a good video.
Occasionally, the head will break off and remain embedded. In this case, it is best to see your doctor to have it removed. I don’t recommend digging around to get it out, as this can increase the chance of infection.
If a tick is attached for less than 24 hours, there is very little chance of contracting Lyme disease. If it is on longer, there is a chance of transmission (about 60% of deer ticks in my area carry Lyme disease), so see your doctor if you have concerns. A prophylactic dose of antibiotics given within 72 hours of the bite can basically negate the chance of transmission.
Here’s how NOT to remove a tick. I have seen all of these methods tried. They are…unwise, to say the least, and generally lead to more damage than if nothing had been done at all. Don’t burn a tick off with a lit match. It’s an awesome way to get a nice burn. Don’t take a really sharp knife and start hacking at your skin. Don’t “smother” the tick with petroleum jelly, nail polish remover, mineral spirits, or whatever caustic substance is lurking in your garage. Please, people, just use common sense! If your tick removal method might lead to a referral to a plastic surgeon, re-think your actions.