Ticks are what nightmares are made of.
With eight legs, a mouthful of hooks, a creepy-crawly appearance that comes in a hard-to-detect package and bodies that swell as they gorge themselves on the blood of their hosts, ticks are unpleasant just to think about — never mind actually encountering one.
But, if you do, Kayla Norenberg, M.D., a Sanford Health family physician, suggests removing it as soon as possible.
“You will want to remove it ASAP. Tweezers are your best bet for that process,” she says.
“Grab the tick’s body as close to your skin as possible and be careful not to crush it. This is important as Borrelia burgdorferi, the tick-borne bacteria that causes Lyme disease, resides inside the tick, and squeezing could result in it leaking out, which is not something you want.”
And contrary to widely held belief, twisting is not the right approach.
“If you twist the tick, barbs on its legs could get stuck in your skin or hair and complicate removal. It’s best to pull straight up and avoid twisting altogether,” Dr. Norenberg says.
Once removed, the area should be rinsed with soapy water and monitored closely. As for disposing of the tick, Dr. Norenberg recommends flushing it down the toilet.
“That’s the simplest way. You can also place the tick in a small amount of rubbing alcohol or put it in a sealed bag or plastic container for a while. That’ll do the trick too.”
Lyme disease symptoms
Some of the earliest Lyme disease symptoms a person might notice include a bull’s-eye rash in the location of the bite and cold symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and loss of appetite. And, in this case, early doesn’t really mean what you’d think.