Last month, a friend called me in distress when she discovered a tick on her twelve-year-old son. What should she do? What should any of us do? Read on to discover how to treat tick bites in seven easy steps.
1. Get pointed tweezers and rubbing alcohol.
To remove an embedded tick, you need pointed tweezers and rubbing alcohol. If you don’t have rubbing alcohol, you can use soap and water.
However, don’t use the squared-off tweezers you use to pluck your eyebrows. Household tweezers might tear the tick apart. Instead, use tick removers.
I recommend this set. It’s low-priced, highly-rated, and comes with a tick identification card. To order, click here or on the picture.
2. Clean the tick-bite area with rubbing alcohol.
If you don’t have rubbing alcohol, use soap and water.
3. Grab the tick’s head with the tweezers.
Get as close to your skin—or your loved one’s—as possible.
4. Pull up with a slow and steady pressure.
5. Clean your hands and the bite area.
Use rubbing alcohol, soap and water, or both.
6. Save the tick for testing and identification.
Save the tick, so you or your doctor can identify it and possibly have it tested. Place it in a pill bottle, or in a sealed bag or container, and mark it with the date. If the tick is still alive, place a blade of grass inside. Then you can store it for up to ten days in the fridge (for live ticks) or the freezer (for dead ones).
When you’re ready, send it to a state agency that does tick testing. Don’t know of one? Ask your health care provider for information on testing locations.
Not sure you want to go through the trouble of having the tick tested? You still might want to save it for a while to see if you develop any signs of illness. The symptoms of many tick-borne diseases overlap. Testing could provide clues to diagnose you correctly. Plus, with an accurate diagnosis, you’re more likely to get proper treatment.
If you eventually do want to dispose of the tick, flush it down the toilet. Whatever you decide, don’t squeeze the tick with your fingers. That’s another way to get infected.
7. See your doctor and watch for symptoms.
Finally, make an appointment with your health care provider. Depending on the kind of tick and how long it was embedded, you may need antibiotics. Regardless, watch for symptoms of tick-borne diseases. Want to know which ones are most common? Read my next blog post!