Home Remedies for Tick Removal

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Many people are under the assumption that a tick is an insect when it is in fact related to spiders, scorpions and mites. With eight jointed legs, ticks belong to a class of arachnids. The pests typically dwell in tall grass, forests, and overgrown brush – a real threat for pets and humans, especially campers and hikers. Luckily, home remedies for tick removal can help prevent the spread of disease and infection.

What are Ticks?

There are about 800 kinds of ticks that live all over the world. Out of all the species, around 100 are known to carry diseases. In the United States, disease-carrying ticks include the Rocky Mountain wood tick (carries tick paralysis), American dog tick (carries Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tick paralysis), and the western black-legged tick (carries Lyme disease).

Ticks typically have a hard, smooth shield that covers all or part of their body. Some measure around one-quarter inch and can reach the size of a pinhead. The tick has two main body parts: head and abdomen. Ticks dwell in regions where there is vegetation, such as weeds, grass, trees, and plants. They like wooded areas and most likely come in contact with people and animals by sources of water, such as lakes and streams.

A tick doesn’t bite, but instead attaches itself to a victim (called a host) so that it can feed on blood. It uses barbed mouthparts to dig into the skin of a victim, making tick removal highly difficult. Most people and animals are unaware that a tick has become imbedded into the skin. If left undetected, a tick will engorge itself on the blood of its host over the course of 2 to 4 days and drop off. However, in that time – the damage could already be done if the tick was carrying a disease. It is also important to note that not all ticks transmit disease [1].

Tick Attachment

Tick attachment is usually painless and many people don’t even know that they’ve come in contact with one. For example, the deer tick (known to transmit Lyme disease) is nearly undetectable. However, symptoms of tick attachment do alert people to a potentially serious health concern associated with the pest.

On occasion, a neurotoxin is secreted at the time of attachment. Some hosts react with muscle weakness or paralysis. Other indications of tick attachment include localized redness, itching, burning, and in some rare cases, localized intense pain before or after a tick drops off.

If a tick transmits pathogens during a feeding, an individual may experience flu-like symptoms, fever, numbness, rash, weakness, confusion, swollen joints, painful joints, shortness of breath, nausea, and vomiting.

Tick Removal Home Remedies

Being too aggressive in removing a tick can cause it to transfer disease and encourage a skin infection. This is why many people use home remedies for tick removal to coax the mouthparts of the pest out of the skin. A variety of suggestions are found below:

a) Tweezers:

One of the best tick removal home remedies is a pair of tweezers. It is an effective way to firmly grasp the pest as close to the skin as possible. It is very important not to twist or jerk the tick when removing because the mouthparts can break off and stay in the skin. Any disease the tick is carrying will then be transferred into your bloodstream.

b) Piece of Tissue:

When tweezers are not available, remove a tick with a piece of tissue – making sure your fingers do not come in contact with the pest.

c) Soapy Water:

After removing a tick, place them in a container filled with soapy water to make sure they can no longer do any damage.

d) Alcohol Rub Down:

Before combing your pet’s fur to remove ticks, soak a cotton ball in alcohol and rub down the fur or coat.

e) Avoid Aggressive Tick Removal:

There is a great deal of home remedies for tick removal on the Internet, yet some will actually make matters worse. Do not follow suggestions for remedies that will give a tick a ‘shock.’ A tick will purge the contents of its body into your bloodstream, which could lead to infection or a transmission of a disease. Tick removal ideas to avoid include using nail polish remover, hot matches, and Vaseline.

f) Q-Tip and Insect Spray:

Place a small amount of insect spray on a Q-tip and directly apply to a tick that has become embedded into the skin. In most cases, the tick will back out on its own.

g) Dish Detergent :

Put a small amount of dish detergent (such as Dawn[3]) on a cotton ball and place over a tick. Hopefully, he will start to back out of the skin on his own. Use a pair of tweezers to remove him from the skin.

h) Pert Plus Shampoo:

To remove ticks from a pet, use the dandruff shampoo Pert Plus. Starting at the neck and moving down the length of the body, quickly wash your pet. It is recommended to select the 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner option. Wear gloves while washing your pet to avoid yourself from coming in contact with a tick.

i) Apple Cider Vinegar:

After tick removal, rinse a pet’s fur with apple cider vinegar – a scent that ticks do not enjoy. Ticks should not reinfest the pet.

j) Cigarette:

Hold the hot end of a lit cigarette close to a tick. The heat will make it feel uncomfortable – encouraging it to release from your skin and back out on its own.

k) Tape:

Use the sticky side of masking or cellophane tape to remove ticks that are crawling on your clothes. Press the tape against the ticks, fold over, and discard in the garbage.

l) Finger and Hand Protection:

When removing a tick, it is important to use a tissue, paper towel, or latex gloves to protect your fingers and hands. It is highly suggested to avoid removing ticks with your bare hands [2].

m) Vial of Alcohol:

If you want to make sure the tick you’ve come in contact with is not capable of spreading a disease to you, after removing the pest, place in a small vial of alcohol to preserve it long enough for someone to analyze it.

n) Disinfect:

After removing a tick, it is important to disinfect the skin. Some of the ways to protect against infection is with soapy water or rubbing alcohol.

Resources

[1] http://science-ed.pnl.gov/pals/resource/cards/ticks.stm
[2] http://www.cdc.gov/ticks/removing_a_tick.html

[3] http://www.dawn-dish.com/us/dawn/

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