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Monday, August 3, 2009

Ticks - How To Remove Them and When To Worry:

If you Googled, "how to remove a tick?" you would get some very interesting methods: dousing it with rubbing alcohol, burning it with a hot match, or smothering it with petroleum jelly. You might even stumble across a study that was published in 1985 in the journal Pediatrics that compared these home remedies with the tweezers method and concluded that the most effective method of removing a tick is in fact by using tweezers.

The concern when removing a tick is that you remove not just the body but the mouthparts as well. When a tick begins feeding on a person, it embeds its mouthparts into the person's skin. In order to remove the tick in its entirety, it is best to follow these simple steps. Place the tweezers at the base of the tick's body nearest the person's skin. With firm and steady pressure pull the tick straight up and off the person. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has a great diagram that illustrates the proper removal technique. It is best not to twist the tick as this increases the likelihood that it will break apart and some of it may be left in the person.

If the tick does break apart, leaving the mouthparts inside the individual, then these pieces should also be removed using tweezers. After the tick has been successfully removed, disinfect the area with either alcohol or iodine. Removing a tick is something that usually can be done at home quite easily; however, if you are unsure if the whole tick has been removed than you should contact your child's pediatrician.

After you have removed the tick place it in a plastic bag or container so that you or a doctor can identify what type of tick it is. The CDC's website has photos of multiple ticks that can be used for this purpose. The site also identifies each ticks typical geographical location as well as the diseases most commonly associate with each tick. Please note however that the site is incomplete in its information. Notably, (in this section) it omits information regarding Lyme disease. Lyme disease is most commonly transmitted by Ixodes scapularis, referred to as the Blacklegged Tick, or more commonly known as the Deer Tick. For further information regarding the symptoms of Lyme disease or any other tick borne illness please visit the Minnesota Department of Health website.

In general, most ticks need to be on the body for at least 24 hours before they can transmit a disease. Insect repellents containing DEET are effective against ticks, however they can be harmful to children when used in large quantities. Children should not use products containing more that 30% DEET and insect repellent should be washed off your child's skin as soon as possible after coming indoors. Doing tick checks during the summer and anytime your children have been playing outside in a wooded area will ensure that ticks are found in less than 24 hours. Be sure to check in the hair, groin, under the arms and behind the ears. If you are unsure how long a tick has been on your child, or if your child begins to show signs of illness including a rash or mild cold-like illness, contact your child's doctor.