Whether you've discovered a tick on yourself, another human or a beloved pet, it's essential you remove it safely and immediately. If you don't, you risk the transmission of tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease, anaplasmosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. While tweezers are an effective way to remove ticks, you might not always have them handy. If you've found yourself tweezerless, don't worry. There are plenty of other ways to remove a tick.
The Dental Floss Method
Dental floss, fishing line or thin thread work in a pinch to remove a tick. Simply take your fishing line, floss or thread and, getting as close to the skin as possible, loop it around the head of the tick. Tighten the loop and carefully and firmly pull your floss or string upward. As with all methods of tick removal, you want to ensure you aren't breaking the head off the body and that the whole tick comes out.
The Dish or Hand Soap Method
Sometimes, liquid soap can coax a tick to release from your skin or your pet's fur. Preferably, a soap with natural ingredients is ideal for this method, and you will also need either cotton balls or a cotton swab. Add a bit of soap to your cotton ball or swab and hold it against the tick. The tick will react to the soap and unbury its head. When you pull the ball or swap away, the tick should be entangled in the cotton fibers.
The Cotton Swab Method
No dish or hand soap? No problem. Just use the cotton swabs on their own to remove the tick. Twirl the cotton swab around the biting tick, applying gentle pressure but not squishing it. Continue to circle the tick until it releases its bite and instead attaches to the cotton. Be sure to clean the site to prevent infection.
The Sewing Needle Method
Try using a sewing needle to either force a tick to back out or remove it. If you heat the needle and place it on the tick, it will likely release. This method allows you to target the tick better than methods involving matches or heat, which could burn you as well as the tick. Before using the needle, you will want to clean the area where the tick is with rubbing alcohol. If the tick doesn't fully back out from the heat, you can use the sharp end of the needle to dig the head out. Remember, the head should come out with whenever you try to remove a tick.
The Plastic Straw or Spoon Method
If you cut a wedge-shaped notch in a rigid plastic straw or spoon, you can use it to remove a tick. Put the notch around the tick and gently lift it, encouraging it to dislodge. This technique works better on engorged ticks, and you want to take your time to remove it in one piece, head and all.
Methods to Avoid
When researching removing a tick without tweezers, you will likely come across methods you should avoid. Some of these procedures can cause even more harm to humans or animals and lead to the tick only burrowing itself farther beneath the skin.
Matches and cigarettes rely on heat to get the tick to back out. They also have much more surface area than a hot needle, and you have a high chance of burning your pet, child or yourself when using them. Vaseline and nail polish remover are other ways that sound effective but aren't; people believe they will either suffocate the tick or force it to back out. These products can have the opposite effect and make the tick dig in deeper.
Many tick bites happen at home, and one of the best preventative measures you can take is to ensure your yard is not friendly to these pests. If you live near a wooded area or grassy field, building some type of physical barrier between that habitat and your yard can help keep ticks away. You can also use a pesticide around the outside of your home.
If you have a persistent tick problem, you should bring in professionals. A trained and licensed professional like those at MosquitoNix® can help manage ticks, especially during the peak season. Our residential pest control service covers ticks and includes a licensed technician who will stop by your home once a quarter to lay pesticide. Protect your family and pets today and get a quote.
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