What is the best way to remove a tick?

Feb 11, 2020
It’s very important to remove the tick as soon as possible. Source: Getty.

Australia is home to around 70 different sorts of ticks, 10 of which are known to bite humans. They are especially common along the east coast.

Most of the time tick bites are just annoying, but sometimes it can cause an allergic reaction, or worse, tick paralysis — so, it’s very important to remove the tick as soon as possible.

So, what is the best way to remove a tick?

The Department of Health suggests spraying the tick with an aerosol insect repellent prior to removal. Permethrin-based creams, which are available from chemists, may also be used.

Then, using fine point tweezers or forceps (not household tweezers), grab the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull it upwards using steady pressure. Try not to squeeze or agitate the tick as this increases the chances it will inject more toxin.

Saliva from a tick’s bite can transmit pathogens that cause serious illnesses, such as Queensland tick typhus, Flinders Island spotted fever and possibly Lyme disease, although there’s still ongoing debate whether you can get Lyme disease from ticks in Australia.

“If you’re having difficulty removing the tick or suffer any symptoms after removal, seek medical attention immediately,” a statement on the department’s website read.

Methylated spirits, kerosene, petroleum jelly, nail polish, oil or alcohol may also cause the tick to borrow deeper into your skin, according to healthdirect. The website also warns against using home remedies such as matches or pins.

If you’re allergic to ticks, it’s best to have it removed by a doctor. In the case of your first allergic reaction, go straight to a hospital emergency department.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction include a swollen throat, difficulty breathing and collapsing. Meanwhile, tick paralysis symptoms include a rash, headache, fever, flu-like symptoms, weak limbs, sore glands, walking unsteadily, not being able to tolerate bright lights and a paralysed face.

Prevention of future bites

If you’re going somewhere you might be exposed to a tick, healthdirect recommends taking extra precautionary measures:

  • Wear light-coloured long-sleeved shirts and long pants
  • Avoid bush and long grass, especially after rain
  • Use an insect repellent that contains DEET
  • Check your clothes and skin for ticks when you come inside.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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