The sun is shining, the weather is sweet, yeah, and you’ve just discovered that there’s a tick lodged in the skin behind your knee. What you do next could mean the difference between contracting Lyme disease or enjoying the rest of your summer infection-free.
Ticks like to lurk on the tops of grass stems overhanging footpaths, hence why they commonly end up biting people behind the knee. Other tick hotspots to check thoroughly include between the toes, at the elbows, in the hairline, and in the armpits and groin. Ticks will often wander to find a dark, safe, unexposed area of skin in which to settle down and feed, so get into the mind of a tick and figure out where you’d go in order to avoid the brush-off.
Speaking of which, don’t just brush off a tick if you find one on your skin. First, pay attention to if it is already attached as a vigorous swipe of your hand could result in the tick’s body being removed but its head staying firmly lodged in your skin where it can continue to spread bacteria. If the tick is already attached then take care to remove it safely to minimise your risk of becoming infected.
Removing a Tick
Safe tick removal can be done using a simple pair of blunt-headed tweezers, a magnifying glass, if necessary, and some antiseptic solution. Oh, and a steady hand. To remove the tick use the tweezers to grab the tick’s head as close to your skin as possible. Don’t squeeze too hard and avoid grabbing the tick around its body. Once you have a good grip, apply firm and consistent pressure while gently pulling the tick straight up and out of the skin.
Do not twist the tick. Do not yank the tick free. These increase the risk of leaving the tick’s head behind, along with all of its germs.
This video shows you how to safely remove a tick.
If you squeeze the tick’s abdomen while trying to remove it then this may cause the tick to throw up its stomach contents, including a whole host of bacteria. This dramatically increases your chances of contracting Lyme disease, and also things like Babesiosis and Ehrlichiosis.
After Removing a Tick
Once you have the tick out, check for remnants (using the magnifying glass), and then clean the area with an alcohol wipe and apply a little antiseptic cream around the bite.
It is also a good idea to preserve the tick in case symptoms do arise. This means that you will be able to perform a tick test to see if the tick that bit you was carrying Lyme disease bacteria, and/or other bacteria.
Follow these simple steps to store a tick safely. Make sure to check the rest of your body for other ticks as where there is one there is often more – also check other family members, including animals. And, of course watch out for any symptoms of Lyme disease in the next few days, weeks, and months.