Ticks are usually found on pets and other mammals and occasionally on people, including children. Some types of ticks carry infectious diseases that can be fatal to humans and pets. Ticks are commonly labeled as insects but they are actually arachnids just like mites and spiders. These pests are more active when the weather turns cold. They feed on blood by attaching their mouths, which have barbs, deep into the skin and feeding slowly. The most common ticks that you will encounter are the brown dog, American dog, lone star and the blacklegged ticks. Of these, the blacklegged tick is the one most dreaded. It is otherwise known as the deer tick, which carries Lyme disease. Ticks are not jumpers or fliers, they are crawlers. They usually live on tall grasses and vegetation and transfer to animals and humans when they brush on plants where the ticks are. It is advisable to remove ticks from children and pets as soon as you find them. Here are some ways to remove ticks.
- If you are outside and you notice ticks crawling on you pet or your child get a piece of tissue and use this to protect and cover your fingers. Close your thumb and forefinger over the tick and get as close to the skin where the tick is attached. Bend your fingers so they are like pincers and pull the tick straight up. Use firm force but do not press too hard that you will burst the tick. This can cause stomach contents to spread to the skin of the host, which may carry dreaded bacteria. Leaving the mouth of the tick embedded on the skin of the host is also not a good idea as fluid will be regurgitated and contaminate the host.
- Wrap sticky tape around your finger with the adhesive side out and use this to pick ticks that are crawling over your pet’s hair and on children’s skin. Place the used sticky tape in a plastic bag and burn it later.
- A pair of tweezers with bent and pointed ends is one the most effective tool you can use to remove ticks. If you are using this on your pet, part the hair to expose the tick. Hold the tweezers with the tips pointing outward. Grasp the tick with the tips sideways, as close to the skin as possible and pull the tick straight up. Drop the tick in a small bottle where some alcohol has been poured. Disinfect the area where the tick was removed with tick and apply antiseptic. Seal the bottle and dispose of properly.
- Do not use alcohol, petroleum jelly or any other solution to try to suffocate the tick while still attached to the host as this can irritate the tick and cause it to regurgitate the contents of its stomach, which can include bacteria that can cause infections.
- While removing ticks have a small container with liquid dishwashing soap on standby. Drop the ticks that you remove in it. The soap will suffocate the ticks and kill them. Make sure that the ticks are no longer moving before you properly throw the soap away.
Protecting yourself, your children and your pets will help prevent ticks infestation. Avoid brushing against vegetation when you walk outside. Wear light-colored long sleeved shirts and trousers with the legs tucked inside socks. Inspect pets and children and yourself for ticks before you come into the house. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after removing ticks and consult a doctor if you suddenly develop a fever.