Seeing a tick’s back legs waving at you while it dines on your blood is not only gross and scary, but after you get over your panic, what do you do? At the speed of the Internet you turn to Google. Good luck! Removing an embedded, feasting tick is no walk in the park… Which of course may be just how you picked up your tick! So let me tell you how.
Years ago, to remove a tick, people thought that if you smothered the tick with vasoline or nail polish, the tick would withdraw and disengage to get air. But smothering it actually increases the chance of infection by making the tick regurgitate its lyme infected stomach contents into your skin.
Another antiquated sure to fail, tick removal method was to burn the end of the embedded tick with the flame from a match. Hmmmm. Let’s see. The tick is less than an eighth of an inch long and is attached to the skin and you’re going to put a roaring flame at the end on the tick… Bet you can figure out who really got burned.
So now most people advise a simple, straight-forward technique:
“With tweezers, grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible. Pull the tick straight up and out. Pull gently until the tick lets go. Don’t twist or jerk the tick suddenly, because this may break off the tick's head or mouth. Do not leave any part of the tick in your skin.”
I must admit that using the techniques I just discussed, and others, I have never successfully coaxed a tick to withdraw, give up dinner, pick up a white flag or simply disengage. All efforts at BEST have resulted in my removing most of the tick, but the mouth has always remained embedded in the skin. That then immediately invoked plan “B”: Out with local anesthesia to numb the tick embedded skin and then with a scalpel blade, I easily remove the tick and the tiny piece of skin the mouth piece is stuck in. I send the body and mouth piece to the lab to see if it’s a lyme tick, and if it is, then to find out whether it contains the lyme germ, called Borrelia burgdorferi
Try saying that 10 times fast.
This is your take away: Unless you’re very lucky or just know how to woo a tick, if you have an embedded one, don’t try to remove it yourself. Go to your doctor or the Emergency Room. Leaving any part of the tick in your skin increases the chance of getting lyme disease if the tick is infected, as does leaving the tick in your skin over night.
Just admit defeat and get help… otherwise the tick will win.