published Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

Roberts: Dangers of tick removal

Finding something dug into my skin and suspecting it was a tick, I did what most red-blooded Americans do when they face a medical challenge of any magnitude. I Googled it.

I thought, "It can't be all that hard to get this little blood sucker out of his cozy new home."

After all, I had heard people say they got ticks to turn loose by covering them with a big blob of petroleum jelly or painting them with nail polish.

It looked simple enough to me.

Sure enough, the Google site listed these two home remedies as choices, but at the beginning of the website was this warning: "No information on this website is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. ... Never use any home remedy without being advised to do so by a physician."

As I read on, I saw the potential danger of most of the home remedies. The danger is that you will get the tick upset and he will literally vomit his toxic fluids into your body. If you cut off his breathing ability with petroleum jelly or fingernail polish, in struggling to breathe he will release his toxic burps on you or, literally, into you.

One writer went so far as to say you should not use any method that might upset Mama Tick in the coziness of her abode. A commercial once made the point with lightning and earthquakes that it's not smart to upset Mother Nature. I am here to tell you, it is equally unwise to upset Mother Tick. Lightning may not dance menacingly around you or the ground shake under your feet, but you might find a little red ring around the place where Mama Tick made her home with you, be overcome with nausea, vomiting and fever. You might develop memory disorders and paralysis of the face.

Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks. It is becoming more common -- so much so that two of my friends have had it. One became goofy as a goose and had no idea his behavior was bizarre. The other one became very ill for several months and has not really fully recovered a year later.

It is true that you can force ticks to turn loose. You're quite a bit bigger than they are and have more weapons of war at your command, like petroleum jelly, nail polish and a few others the Google sites mention, such as the dishwasher detergent Dawn, insect spray, the tip of a hot match and a lit cigarette (that's right -- just burn him out). But whatever you do, you will be wise to not give him any time for even the slightest burp.

If I was going to use any of the methods mentioned by Google, it would be Tic-Off, and my reason is that it paralyzes the tick, making it less likely he will have time to burp. And the only thing I would do to remove a tick would be to use Tick Tweezers. They are quick and surgical.

If you choose to use any method to force out the tick, I would put it in a little mailable bottle your druggist should have and mail it for analysis to IGeneX Inc., 795 San Antonio Road, Palo Alto CA 94303 (phone 800-832-3200). Check http://igenex.com for more information.

Remember, it's not smart to upset Mother Tick.

E-mail Dalton Roberts at DownhomeP@aol.com.

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