(AscendHealthy.com) – Tick season is here, and that means we’re all at an increased risk of catching Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections. Your best defense against transmission is a proactive one: keeping ticks off you and removing them as promptly as possible once they’ve attached. There’s a right and wrong way to do this, and if you follow old-fashioned protocols, you could wind up doing more harm than good.
Tick Removal 101
No matter how many safety measures you take to keep ticks off, there’s always the possibility of one finding a way into a cozy spot somewhere on your body. Once it’s attached, the clock starts ticking: The risk of disease transmission increases significantly after 24 hours and continues to rise through the 48-hour mark. It’s imperative that you find and remove the tick before it starts sharing all of its nasty diseases with you.
It’s also important that you remove it safely. Follow these tips offered by the CDC to reduce the possibility of complications:
- Grip the tick as close to the skin as possible. To do this, use fine-tipped tweezers or a blunt, medium-tipped, angled forceps.
- Gently pull the tick upward and away from the skin. You might not get the whole bug if you jerk it abruptly out.
- Don’t twist the tick as you pull. Doing so can increase the chances of mouthparts breaking off beneath the surface of your skin. If mouthparts do break off, use clean tweezers or forceps to gently remove them, if possible. If it is not possible to remove them, do not open the wound. Allow the skin to heal.
- Don’t crush the tick with your bare fingers. This can expose you to some of the diseases it could be carrying.
- Never rely on folk remedies to smother or agitate the tick into releasing. Petroleum jelly, nail polish or a hot matchstick can leave the tick attached longer — and it may regurgitate into the bite, significantly increasing infection risks.
Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or rubbing alcohol immediately after any kind of tick removal.
After You’ve Removed It
The CDC recommends against having the tick tested for disease because these tests aren’t always reliable. Instead, monitor yourself for signs of illness and call your healthcare provider if you have any concerns. Symptoms to watch out for include fatigue, fever, headache and muscle pain. Some people develop a rash at the site of the bite and painful joint swelling. In areas where Lyme disease is prevalent, doctors may opt to give antibiotics simply as a precaution, even before symptoms have a chance to show.
Ticks can be a serious problem, especially if you live in an area where they’re common and you spend a lot of time outdoors. Remember, they love the warm weather as much as you do. When you’re out, they’re out. Following proper tick removal guidelines could save you from suffering a devastating illness, so follow the appropriate steps every time to keep the odds on your side.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension
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