As spring flowers begin to bloom and the weather warms up, people are pulling their bikes out of storage and lacing up their hiking boots to start tackling the local trails and mountains. Being in close proximity to meadows of tall grass and trees, people need to keep an eye out for not only for bears but the ever hard to see tick. While taking appropriate precautions can help you avoid a tick bite, no system is perfect. This brings us to the question of how should you remove a tick if you've been bitten?
Before talking about tick removal, the anatomy of the tick needs to be highlighted as this is very important to why removal is such a delicate situation. When a tick first bites, it's mouth penetrates into the skin layers allowing its capitulum to anchor . The best way to describe how ticks bite is to think of their mandibles as a grappling hook. Just like a grappling hook, when a tick is being pulled, the capitulum anchors deeper into the skin, which only creates a stronger, more secure hold. This unique ability to hold on allows the tick to remain firmly attached to the host to prevent dislodgment. When people are involved it unfortunately often ends poorly for both the tick and the host. When a tick is forcefully removed, various pieces are left behind within the skin due to the grappling hook appendages which can lead to local infection of the skin or/and lyme disease.
Let's get back to our original question. How should you remove a tick? When it comes to removing ticks, there are a few methods that have circulated the internet with the most popular technique being to remove the tick by placing something hot against the body of the tick in order to force the tick out. This is a poor way to remove the tick as it causes the tick to eject stomach content into the skin of the host causing an infection and potentially Lyme disease. The best way to remove a tick is to see your doctor. A proven method developed by Dr. Murakami, MD, is to inject a pre-measured mixture of Xylocaine and Adrenaline directly beneath the jaw of the tick causing vasoconstriction of the local blood vessels cutting off the food supply to the tick. Without a blood supply, the tick voluntarily removes itself from the skin, without injecting any residue or leaving behind any body parts in the skin. Having a doctor remove ticks is far safer than trying to remove one using DIY techniques found on the internet.
As always, this post is not designed to diagnose or treat you, but instead to give you something to think about. Please book a consult with a naturopathic doctor prior to changing, starting, or stopping medications or protocols.