Even the most well-informed person can fall for “fake news” online these days. Especially on Facebook, where there’s been a video circulating that advises people to use peppermint oil to remove a tick. This “home remedy” will allegedly encourage the tick to detach itself.
DO NOT DO THIS.
As the most trusted name in mosquito and tick control, Mosquito Squad is here to look out for you.
Home remedies in general aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but the peppermint oil tactic is not only incorrect, it’s dangerous. Smothering a tick or stressing it out in any way by popular “home remedy” methods such as painting it with nail polish, applying petroleum jelly, or removing it with heat from a match or lighter can actually increase your likelihood of contracting a tick-borne illness such as Lyme disease, Babesiosis, or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever if the tick is infected. A tick’s natural response to stress is to spew out of its mouth, prematurely infecting you with whatever bacteria or parasite it may be carrying.
Given that it takes at least 24 hours of being attached to you before you are infected by a tick, it is always advisable that you safely and slowly remove the tick with pointy tweezers or needle nose pliers. Pull straight out to avoid breaking the tick’s mouth parts. Do not hurt or tear the tick, as it could lead to bacteria and viruses infecting your bite. Watch the video below to see exactly how it is done.
Video courtesty of Tick Encounter Resource Center (http://www.tickencounter.org/prevention/how_to_remove_a_tick_video)
Take a Good Look at the Tick
Once safely removed, it’s a good idea to get a sense of whether the tick had a chance to feed on you and what kind of tick it is. You can identify the tick yourself with the tick identification chart from the Tick Encounter Resource Center. This chart also shows you what it looks like if the tick had a chance to feed. All ticks have the ability to transmit disease, but the most common is the deer tick (black-legged tick), which is the main vector of Lyme disease. After you identify your tick, you can then make a decision on what to do next.
What to Do with a Safely Removed Tick
You can never be certain if the tick you removed has had time to transmit a disease of any sort. Not all ticks carry diseases, and which includes deer ticks and Lyme disease. You could send the tick in to have it tested, but even then, you may not know if you’re infected until symptoms start to show. Know the symptoms of common tick-vectored illnesses and watch for them.
Instead of disposing of the tick, Mosquito Squad advises you to tape it to an index card with the date and location you likely picked it up. You can also place it in a sealed bag or container with a teaspoon of rubbing alcohol. Hang on to the tick for six months or so just in case some unusual symptoms appear. If you have identified the tick and really want to get rid of it, you can simply flush the it down the toilet. Watch carefully to make sure it goes down, because ticks are avid climbers and there’s a chance it may not actually be dead yet.
If you have any questions about tick safety, please give us a call at (603) 380-4541. Mosquito Squad of New Hampshire Lakes Region is here to protect you and your loved ones on your own property from ticks, mosquitoes, other biting insects, and the potentially dangerous diseases they carry. Our tick control and mosquito control methods are guaranteed to reduce yard pests by up to 90% or your money back. Call us for a free consultation at (603) 380-4541 or drop us a line via our contact form and we’ll reach out to you. Regardless of how we get in touch, we look forward to helping you!
(In the meantime, see our page about the 6 C’s of tick proofing your property.)