I’m really ticked off—at myself. I let my guard down because I don’t “think ticks” during cold weather—and I was shocked when I discovered a somewhat engorged tick on my side yesterday (Mar. 21).
I had felt what turned out to be the tick a few days earlier but paid it no attention. It thought it was a scab from a scratch I got when pruning a Knockout rose on one of those warm, spring-like days a week or so earlier.
But it wasn’t a scab. It was a tick—and maybe it took up its new abode when I was weeding our vegetable garden, pruning the rose or our junipers, or cutting back perennials.
Ticks, of course, overwinter in gardens and landscapes and become active when the temperatures rise above freezing. Maybe mine was the “early tick that got the human,” so to speak.
I wasn’t pleased when I discovered the tick. Whether it was a deer tick or a dog tick really didn’t matter to me, as both can carry diseases. I first tried a home remedy—covering the tick with liquid hand soap—but it showed no signs of retreat.
I quickly decided to get expert counsel on tick removal. I did an Internet search on “how to remove ticks.” The top two listings were for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and for WebMD. I chose the CDC site and followed this advice:
“1. Use a fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
“2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
“3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.”
And what about those “old home remedies” for removing ticks—such as my unsuccessful swabbing of “my” tick with liquid soap? The CDC comments: “Avoid folklore remedies such as ‘painting’ the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible—not waiting for it to detach.”
Yes, I had heard of “apply Vaseline” and Ellen said she had heard that applying a heated nail to a tick would make it abandon its human meal. I thought it best to remove the tick immediately with tweezers—the modern medical recommendation—and wasn’t inclined to see if a heated nail would leave grill marks on my side.
This morning I made a precautionary visit to our family physician. He said he annually treats about 30 cases of Lyme disease and already has treated one this year. Here’s hoping—and he thinks—I will not be his second Lyme case of 2013, but we’ll monitor the situation.
Don’t let your guard down, as I did. When the weather warms in late winter and early spring, remember to check for ticks after outdoor work or play.
If you’d like additional information from the CDC about avoiding ticks, CLICK HERE. It’s worth a minute or two of your time. Believe me, you really don’t want to be ticked off.