We know — ticks are disgusting little bloodsuckers who transmit horrible, terrible diseases to people, and therefore they don’t deserve any of our empathy. So, it’s only natural if, after seeing one embedded in your skin, to want to cause it as much harm as possible. There are many, many things that you may have heard or seen online about how to remove a tick, and the thought of torturing one is appealing to even the most reasonable of people.
However, if the tick is embedded in your skin, you really, really need to treat it with care. Don’t try to drown it with peppermint oil, petroleum jelly, or even burn it with the hot end of a newly-blown-out match. Why? Because while it takes at least 24 hours for an embedded tick to transmit a disease under normal conditions, you may actually speed up the process if you “tick” it off. (See what we did there?) When a tick is agitated or otherwise stressed out, its natural response is to spew out of its mouth. Think of it as a tick’s own way of retaliation of how dare you disturb it while it’s trying to eat.
There is a common misconception that if you just took a bath, shower, or sat in a hot tub, it will “drown” the tick and therefore it can be removed that way. While we wish it were that easy, that’s simply not true. Ticks have been known to be submerged in water for 2-3 days and still seem to survive just fine. Trying to drown a tick isn’t an effective strategy for removal, either.
So, if you notice there’s a tick using you as its all-you-can-eat buffet, you may be disgusted and annoyed but please treat it with care. Go ahead and talk to it in a soothing voice, tell the tick it’s going to be alright, though in the back of your mind you may or may not have some devious plans for its ultimate fate. (Actually, if you’re in the company of others we don’t recommend you try to verbally coddle the tick, you may raise some eyebrows.) Regardless of what you say to it, you must safely remove the tick with pointy-nose tweezers.
After you’ve safely removed your tick, if you really want to act out your sadistic fantasies of torturing it by burning it, squashing it, or even plucking out its legs one by one . . . go right ahead, but know that there is one safe way to get rid of a tick that won’t make you look like a psychopath, and that is by flushing it down the toilet. While it’s not easy to “drown” a tick (as mentioned above), according to the Tick Encounter Resource Center, ticks definitely do not swim. So even if you’re not sure if it’s dead, even if your tick is just “mostly dead,” if you give it a good flush, it’s not going to find its way back up the drain pipes and seek revenge. That just doesn’t happen.
However, it is highly advised that if you do remove a tick (and once you can confirm it’s actually dead), tape it to an index card and write the date on it, plus the location of where you think it came from. Hang onto it for about 6 months, because if you or the person from which it was removed starts developing any symptoms of illness, you can get it tested to see what, if anything, that tick could’ve been carrying and possibly transmitted.
But please, don’t torture a tick while it’s still attached. That increases your risk of contracting a disease if it’s a carrier, and nobody wants that. After it’s off your skin, feel free to torture it all you want, but the best way of ensuring you’re never in a position to even need to torture a tick, flush it, or worry about contracting a dangerous tick-borne disease is to make sure you’re not exposed to them in the first place.
With Mosquito Squad of New Hampshire Lakes Region’s proven tick control methods, we can guarantee nearly 90% fewer ticks (and mosquitoes, and other biting bugs) in your yard for three weeks at a time or your money back. Give us a call at 603-380-4541 to keep yourself and your family protected, and from acting out any weird tick-torturing fantasies. We look forward to hearing from you!