With the warmer and more humid weather ahead, it’s a timely reminder of safe tick removal.
A couple of years ago, I attended a talk by Dr Sheryl Van Nunen, an expert in tick allergies. Sheryl had some interesting insights into mammalian tick allergy, and a clear, evidence based protocol for removing ticks – which was at odds to the public health guidelines. I asked when the public health guidelines would be updated so that schools, hospitals, clinics and parents would be more widely informed of the developments in handling tick removal, and sadly there was no clear answer. The government moves slowly and to roll out an awareness campaign, updating materials, etc. would be a question of priorities for departments involved – that’s bureaucracy for you. Thankfully, there has since been some media reports highlighting latest protocol.
Check regularly your children and animals for any signs of ticks. slight raised bumps of skin, small dark spots on the skin or fur that aren’t able to be moved with your hand. Children and pets may show physical signs such as lethargy, distress or being less mobile.
If you identify a tick embedded in the skin, do not use tweezers, or attempt to remove with your fingers or to pull it out.
When tick removal is attempted by physical removal, the tick, firmly attached in the skin surface, becomes distressed and releases a fluid into the body. It’s this fluid release that is believed to be the cause of mammalian tick allergy, and can result in lyme disease.
After identifying the tick, you need to immobilise it. You could freeze it with a wart removal product, or our preferred method of removal is to place a couple of drops of pure peppermint essential oil on the tick, so it is covered in a bubble of oil. Within a minute or two, it can be removed easily and completely with a pair of tweezers.