how to properly remove ticks
Myth #1: Ticks can jump. leap or fall out of trees.
Most people know that ticks can’t fly but I can't tell you how many times I've heard people refer to ticks jumping like ninjas. The truth is that ticks do not and cannot jump, fly, or leap out of trees. Their typical behavior is to walk/crawl on low surfaces (grass, bushes, rocks, posts, etc.) and wait for a host with their arms spread out ("questing"). These tiny arachnids are usually found questing on surfaces that humans or other hosts like deer or rodents pass by frequently.
Myth #2: You can remove a tick with nail polish, matches, tape, or olive oil.
There are many surprising ways people will suggest to remove ticks from the skin, but the worst thing you can do is complicate the situation with potentially hazardous home remedies. When removing a tick, the best approach is to remain calm and follow these simple and effective instructions:
- Use a pair of clean, fine-tip tweezers to remove the tick's head completely, pulling from the base of the tick's head (immediately where the tick is attached.) Do not pull from the tick's legs or abdomen. Pull straight up and out with a firm, steady grip. Most importantly do not leave any part of the tick still attached in the skin. Do not attempt to twist the tweezers or twist the tick during removal.
- Put the tick in an enclosed container (jar, ziplock bag, etc.) to give to your physician or a medical professional for testing.
- Make sure to sanitize the bite area thoroughly with rubbing alcohol. You may also want to follow up with strong anti-microbial essential oils such as oregano oil, tea tree oil, or manuka oil, applied directly on the bite area.
Myth #3: People should be more concerned about mosquitoes than ticks.
Lyme Disease is the fastest growing vector-born illness in the United States, according to the CDC. Reported cases of Lyme reflect only a fraction of the cases that are mis-diagnosed, unreported or left untreated. Ticks are spreading rapidly in certain parts of the United States (and upward into Canada), causing steadily increasing numbers of tick-born illnesses.
In 2017, a total of 42,743 confirmed and probable cases of Lyme disease were reported to the CDC, over 17% more than in 2016. In the U.S., approximately 1,700 cases of malaria are diagnosed each year. So, while it's true that mosquitoes are responsible for over a thousand deaths in America each year, most cases of malaria in the U.S. are from people who have traveled from sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Lyme disease and it's insidious co-infections are not only found in higher numbers and increasing each year, but the disease is being spread and contracted on American soil.
Myth #4: All ticks carry Lyme disease.
Lyme disease is a specific infection caused by a spirochete called "Borellia bergdorferi" and so far it's only been proven that deer ticks, also known as "black-legged ticks," or Ixodes Scapularis carry Lyme disease. That being said, ticks other than the deer tick, such as the dog tick and the lone star tick carry various pathogens that may present similar symptoms as Lyme. As further research is needed, it is always recommended to get checked out if you find a tick on you, regardless of if it's a deer tick or not, especially if you see a red rash, a bullseye rash, or have sudden flu-like symptoms.
Myth #5: Lyme disease is easily cured by antibiotics.
This is an over-simplification of a complex issue. Lyme disease, if it is caught early, may be treated successfully with antibiotics, however this is only true if it's diagnosed right away. The more time that the pathogens have to spread throughout the body, the harder it will be to eradicate them. Antibiotics may serve an important role in early detection and limit the chances of a long term health issue, but a much more comprehensive approach must be implemented to treat chronic Lyme disease which can be expressed with a long list of symptoms.
Myth #6: Chronic Lyme Disease doesn't exist.
This statement has repeatedly been proven false. Lyme disease is a great imitator and may present itself with a wide range of symptoms that present themselves like other illnesses. Because of this Lyme disease is often mis-diagnosed or sadly left un-diagnosed. Chronic Lyme disease can affect people for years and can be very challenging to manage/treat/cure, however there is an increase in Lyme-literate doctors (traditional and naturopathic), comprehensive Lyme protocols and alternative healing modalities. (See our Resources page to learn more.)
Myth #7: Nymph ticks are harmless.
Nymph ticks, the tiny "baby" ticks, are so small that they often go undetected or unnoticed on the body. Since nymphs are more difficult to find, they may remain on the body longer and have an increased chance of transmitting pathogens such as the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease.
Myth #8: If you didn't get the "bull's eye" rash, then you don't have Lyme.
Many people who have contracted Lyme disease have said that they never had the "bull's eye rash". Some sources say that over 50% of Lyme patients do not report finding a bull's eye rash. Many people also say that they were not aware of a tick even biting them.
Myth #8: You will feel the tick if it bites you.
It is highly unlikely that you will feel a tick when it's biting you (UNLIKE the stinging, itching and burning bites of mosquitos and black flies!) Ticks actually release a mild anesthetic as they bite to mask their presence and optimize their chances of staying attached to get a blood meal. That's why it’s of utmost importance to check your skin (and your children and pets) every day after spending time outdoors.
Myth #9: Ticks die in the winter.
Most people realize that ticks are most active in the spring and summer, however when it gets chilly outside the ticks do not die, they simply go dormant. Ticks can still be quite active in the cool fall weather, but are no longer found questing in large numbers in the winter. That doesn't mean that they disappear completely. Ticks, surprisingly, have still been reported during winter months in New England, especially if there are unusually warm temperatures. Ticks have been found in or around wood piles and under piles of leaves or brush.
Myth #10: Not everyone is at risk for tick bites and Lyme disease.
Anyone who spends time outside is at risk of being bitten by a tick; however, you can lower your risk of a tick bite by following a few simple precautions. By using an effective tick repellent such as TICK BAN, walking in the middle of trails, avoiding tall grass and leaf litter, wearing light colors, and performing daily tick checks after being outside, you can decrease your chance of brushing up with ticks and getting tick bites.