Web Zap*Germs Archive

July 04, 2005

Don't Burn a Tick to Remove It

The NYT comments on some ways to remove ticks, and says that burning an imbedded tick is a bad idea.
[W]hile burning a tick into submission is probably the most popular removal method, studies show that it can also be the worst. Getting the tick out as quickly as possible is crucial, since the likelihood of contracting Lyme disease or another infection rises steeply after 24 hours. But traumatizing the insect with heat or too much force also carries the risk of making it regurgitate, further increasing the likelihood of infection.

In 1996, a team of Spanish researchers studied 52 patients who sought treatment at a hospital after extracting a tick. They found that those who accomplished this by squeezing, crushing or burning the insects were far more likely to develop symptoms of Lyme disease or other complications than those who used the proper removal method: grasping the pest as close to the skin as possible with tweezers and then gently pulling it straight up.

Any remaining pieces should be pulled out and the site should be cleaned with a disinfectant.


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