Ticks

ticks

Ticks are prevalent in wooded and bushy areas or among heather and long grass. They live in the soil but climb vegetation, from where they can be brushed on to animal or human hosts on whom they will feed.

Mostly active in spring and summer, ticks are Arthropods (related to spiders and scorpions), and can carry infectious diseases including Lyme disease which can lead to blindness, paralysis and in extreme cases, fatalities.

Who is at risk?

Most commonly affected will be people working in the outdoors such as gamekeepers, farmers and hunters as well as those participating in outdoor leisure activities such as walking, climbing, cycling and camping.



Precautions and protection

  • Wear long sleeves and trousers, covering exposed skin
  • Tuck your trousers into your socks
  • Use an insect repellent effective against ticks
  • Wear light-coloured clothing so ticks are easier to see
  • Avoid sitting or lying on the ground
  • Keep to pathways and, try to avoid areas of overgrown vegetation
  • Check for ticks regularly during the day and again before going to bed
  • Remove any ticks found attached to the skin immediately

Tick removal



The tick disease awareness campaign Tick Alert advises that the tick should be grasped as close to the skin as possible, using fine-tipped tweezers.

Steadily pull the tick's body away from your skin directly outwards, without jerking or twisting.

The Ramblers recommends that if part of a tick breaks off and is left in your skin, you should consult a doctor immediately, taking the remains of the tick with you for analysis as early treatment with antibiotics can prevent Lyme disease from developing further.

More detailed advice is available on the BBC Health website and via other links on this page.

Have you suffered any problems following a tick bite? Or have you had difficulties removing a tick? Add your comments below.

Page first published on Tuesday 28th April 2009
Page last updated on Friday 12th June 2009

Your Views

callum
Is a twister coming to scotland?

Peter
Dowse with nail varnish remover, grab with tweezers and twist anticlockwise - always works for me

Jane
I regularly 'catch' tips from my garden. I discovered six on legs and arm this morning. The tick twister is often too big for the ones I discover - great on my cat. However, tea tree oil seems to help their release using fine tweezers. I would love to find a repellent. Can anyone help? I live in deer country in Scotland.

Don
In the "States" you can find the Tick Twister at a very nice price at...Twist-It-OutWe love this tool and the dogs don't have time to run away before the tick is out.

Rachel
I am a vet nurse and do alot of hill walking/ wild camping. I cannot express how fatastic the tick removers are. I have one in my human and my doggie first aid kits. Drowning and burning ticks does not work. The reason they fall off is usually because they have been on long enogh to have had a decent blood meal. Remember that some ticks are TINY so you should throroughly check yourself (we found some that were pin head sized!). Tick o toms are the tick removers that I use and I have had 100% success rate in removing ticks using these.

Laura
I've had five of the critters now - told my doctors each time it happens - very important if you do suddenly get ill at least they have a note of the possible cause! My boyfriend is now an expert tick-remover, we use his tweezers from his swiss army knife and pull straight out without twisting or anything fancy - works a treat! Did try KY Jelly with the first one, left it an hour but he was quite happy and I was getting a bit worried so got him with the tweezers myself and left his head in my skin - the scar is still there two years on! Ick.

Nicola
I have Lyme disease and am also an ecologist trained in insects. Smothering ticks with oil, vaseline, or burning them is not a good idea at all. this will encourage the tick to disgorge it's stomach contents into the host, which can increase the risk that the ticj will transmit disease such as lyme disease. The tick twisters mike mentions are the best method of removal. They can be bought from vets and online from lyme disease action. Also, wear repellent every time you go out in tick habitat, long trousers and sleeves if possible and check yourself, including groin, armpits and scalp for ticks as soon as you get home. It is best to get them out as soon as possible.

Colin
Good Post Mike, If we all listened to the tick removal bit above we would probably all have lymes by now. I had 15-20 ticks this weekend, all were removed with a Tick twister with no problems! (so far)

Donald
If you wet the tick this seems to soften the grip and usually results in a clean removal. The diagram above looks a little misleading. All the ticks I've experienced have been 2-3 mm in size. Are there species that are more prone to disease transfer?

Alison
I removed a tick by dabbing it with olive oil using kitchen paper. The tick fell after a couple of hours. No idea why - I think they must 'drown' in the oil or something like that??

Mike
I bought a Tick Twister from Pets At Home to remove ticks from my dog. It is placed between the tick and the skin then slowly twisted so that the tick's mouth parts are not left in the skin.The Tick Twister also avoids squeezing the tick because a squeeze may cause the tick to empty its stomach contents into the wound, which in turn could pass on Lyme disease and/or other infections.

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