How to safely remove a tick and treatments for tick-borne illnesses

Caring For Our Kids

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Summer is tick season in East Tennessee.

Ticks can be found nearly everywhere and carry harmful germs which can make us sick.

Dr. Shannon Cohen from East Tennessee Children’s Hospital has some advice for spotting tick-borne illnesses and how to remove ticks.

What tick-borne diseases do we see in East TN?

  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is the most common we see at Children’s Hospital. Lyme Disease is also seen, but is much less common. With more people staying home or heading out into nature right now it’s important to remember the ticks aren’t socially distancing and you have to take precautions.

What are the signs and symptoms of tick-borne illness?

  • Red dot-like rash with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
  • Bullseye-shaped rash with Lyme Disease
  • Flu-like symptoms, including fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting and muscle/joint aches

Proper Tick Removal 

If you spot a tick on your child, don’t panic but removing it properly is important.

  • Use tweezers to grasp the tick firmly at head or mouth next to skin
  • Pull firmly and steadily until tick lets go of the skin; straight up and out
  • Wash your hands and the area of the bite with soap and water
  • Swab the bite site with alcohol

Never do this:

Never twist the tick or rock from side to side when removing with tweezers. Part of the tick can remain in skin.

Never use petroleum jelly or a hot match to kill and remove a tick. These methods don’t get tick off the skin, and can actually cause the tick to burrow deeper and release more saliva into the skin.

Use tick repellent for clothes or skin. Always follow instructions for the safe application and never use on infants. After being outdoors, check for ticks, change clothes and take a shower.

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