HOW TO PROPERLY REMOVE A TICK
With a pair of fine point tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull outward with a slow, even force, pulling in the opposite direction to how the tick entered the skin.
DO NOT JERK OR TWIST THE TICK. This might tear the head and mouth parts from the tick's body and will encourage the ticks fluid to enter your blood stream or skin.
DO NOT USE THE FINGERS TO REMOVE THE TICK. Squeezing the tick could cause it to disgorge the contents of its body into the wound. You can contract Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever simply by handling ticks and having their excretions absorb through your skin.
DO NOT ATTEMPT TO REMOVE THE TICK WITH CHEMICALS (such as nail polish remover, soap, kerosene, oils, etc) OR BY HEATING THE TICKS WITH A MATCH. This can kill it before it disengages its mouthparts. It can also cause the tick to regurgitate into the wound, increasing the likelihood of transmitting diseases.
WASH THE ATTACHMENT SITE. Use warm soapy water and rubbing alcohol. You can apply an ointment like Neosporin to help protect the open site from contamination.
SAVE THE TICK. If you want to send it for testing- place it in a small sealed ziplock bag with a very slightly damp cotton ball (not wet). Keep it in the refrigerator until you are ready to ship it. Remember- testing a tick does not guarantee the organisms will be detected. NEVER wait for the results to come back before being treated.
DO NOT WAIT! Do NOT wait for a rash to appear (less than 50% of people bitten report a rash and less than 10% of children nationwide have a rash). Do NOT wait for the disease to spread and cause symptoms. The International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) recommends treating the bite as soon as possible. (See recommendations below) The one dose of Doxy theory- which some health care professionals may try to pass off as curative- has not shown to be effective in a number of cases. Use common sense- one dose of antibiotics will not kill an infectious disease that can spread throughout your body in a manner of hours.
TAKE THE TICK WITH YOU TO THE DOCTORS. Some medical professionals will insist on seeing the tick. You need to know that it doesn't matter what kind of tick bit you, especially in a highly endemic area like Maryland, they can all carry diseases. For example, Lyme disease isn't only found in deer ticks and RMSF isn't just in lone star ticks as some may try to tell you.
EARLY TREATMENT IS YOUR BEST DEFENSE. In some areas the Lyme infection rate in ticks is as high as 82%. Bartonella, Babesia, Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Anaplasmosis, Mycoplasma and STARI are some of the many diseases ticks can carry. Doxycycline, prescribed for an adequate length of time, is the standard treatment (barring any contra-indicators) as it will address most of the infections you may be exposed to when bitten by ticks.
TAKE ALL PRESCRIBED MEDICATIONS EVEN IF YOU FEEL FINE. When taking doxycycline (and other antibiotics) ask your doctor if you can take it with food rather than on an empty stomach. To help prevent a yeast infection and sustain good digestive health, taking a good quality pro-biotic can help. Caution- avoid sun exposure while on antibiotics (some worse than others). Sunburns can be very bad to extreme. Read all literature that comes with your prescribed medications and if you have questions contact your pharmacist. Avoid using calcium products (milk, cheese, supplements including Tums, Rolaids, etc) when taking your antibiotics as they tend to decrease the ability of the antibiotic to be absorbed.
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS. Note to women- antibiotics may reduce the effectiveness of birth control, so you may want to consider using additional precautions. Some of the older mainstream medical literature reports Lyme can not be transmitted from person to person, however, this theory has been discredited. The spirochetes that cause Lyme disease are similar to the ones that cause syphilis. Spirochetes have been detected in semen, the uterus, breast milk, blood and other body fluids. Front-line physicians who treat many Lyme patients often will test sexual partners who become ill with Lyme disease and will treat partners to prevent the possibility of back-and-forth transmission that can occur.
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Get it Right, Treat the Bite!