Tick Removal – Fact or Fiction

It is that time of year where if you spend a lot of time outdoors hiking, camping and such, that we encounter those nasty little critters known as ticks.  I got this email about an easy way to remove ticks.  Here it is in its entirety:

Spring is here and the ticks will soon be
Showing their heads. Here is a good way to get them off you, your
Children, or your pets. Give it a try. Please forward to anyone with
Children… Or hunters or dogs, or anyone who even steps outside in
Summer!! A School Nurse has written the info below — good enough to share
— And it really works!! I had a pediatrician tell me what she believes is
The best way to remove a tick. This is great, because it works in those
Places where it’s some times difficult to get to with tweezers: between
Toes, in the middle of a head full of dark hair, etc. Apply a glob of
Liquid soap to a cotton ball. Cover the tick with the soap-soaked cotton
Ball and swab it for a few seconds (15-20), the tick will come out on its
Own and be stuck to the cotton ball when you lift it away. This technique
Has worked every time I’ve used it (and that was frequently), and it’s
Much less traumatic for the patient and easier for me. Unless someone is
Allergic to soap, I can’t see that this would be damaging in any way. I
Even had my doctor’s wife call me for advice because she had one stuck to
Her back and she couldn’t reach it with tweezers. She used this method and
Immediately called me back to say, "It worked!" Please pass on. Everyone
Needs this helpful hint.

Okay, like any email of this nature, I do some research and it seems this tip is an old wives tale.  This particular email began circulating in 2006, and the advice it attempts to impart is far older.  I had not heard of this method of tick removal but was familiar with the touching a lit match or hot needle to the tick’s rear to get it to release theory.  However, I discovered that, in fact, removing a tick with liquid soap or lit match could be a dangerous way of tick removal.  According to Snopes “even if they do seemingly aid the process of removing the critters, they may also make matters worse by stimulating the creatures to release additional saliva or regurgitate their gut contents, acts that increase the chance of its transmitting a pathogen to its host.” 

It takes 12 to 24 hours before a feasting tick can spread disease to its host so it is important to remove the tick quickly.  Therefore, if you spend a lot of time outdoors just check yourself before getting into the shower each day.  You can quickly check the kids from head to toes and the scalps of your spouse. 

You can find out how to correctly remove ticks at the Lyme Disease Foundation.  As well as tips for protecting yourself from ticks.  I encourage you to read it!

I just want to add that even when you get e-mails that seem helpful and sound logical, please don’t take them to be 100% accurate.  Take a little time to do some research.  I would rather be safe than sorry.  Hope to hear from you!  Enjoy Life!!!