Safely pluck out the bug to reduce your risk of some serious illnesses (Image: Thinkstock)
A tick bite may not sound as instantly dangerous as a heart attack, but it’s still a scary threat that requires immediate action: You can contract Lyme disease or other nasty infections from a tick after only 24 hours of the bug attaching to you, says Thomas Mather, Ph.D., director of the University of Rhode Island’s TickEncounter Resource Center. And they’re disgusting.
Here’s how to rid your body of these blood suckers. First, invest in a pair of fine-point tweezers—try TickEase or Mainely Ticks—that are designed to grip tiny ticks at their attachment point, as close to the skin as possible. (Regular household tweezers may squeeze germs and pathogens from the tick’s body into your body, says Mather.)
Your local pharmacy may stock them, so you can pick them up quick before you start the removal.
Next, sanitize the tweezers and the bite site with rubbing alcohol, and grab the tick as close to your own skin as possible. Pull upward slowly until the tick pops out.
If part of the tick remains embedded in your skin, don’t freak out—it’ll eventually work itself out, just like a splinter, says Mather. The disease-causing germs inside a tick typically move from its back to its front, so the dangerous stuff shouldn’t be in the leftover part inside your skin. Clean the site with rubbing alcohol.
(And if you feel like a tick that’s about to pop, check out The Anarchy Workout! One guy lost 18 pounds of pure fat in just 6 weeks!)
You should also ask your doctor for the antibiotic doxycycline. The Infectious Diseases Society of America recommends taking 200 milligrams of the stuff within 72 hours of removing a tick.
Just forget about some of the folk wisdom tips you may have heard, like slathering Vaseline on the little bugger or lighting a match near one to encourage it to make its way out of your skin.
Neither are effective, and in the case with the match, you’re just asking for extra trouble: Because tiny nymph deer ticks crawl up from the ground, they usually end up attaching to your below-the-belt areas.
“It has never been a good idea to try to touch something the size of a poppy seed attached to your testicles with a hot object,” says Mather.
Check with your doc if you develop a fever, body aches, or other flu-like symptoms after a tick bite, as all can signal Lyme disease.
By Alex Gardner
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