Claim: Swabbing ticks with liquid soap is a recommended and effective method for removing them.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, 2006]
"I had a pediatrician tell me what she believes is the best way to remove a tick. This is great, because it works in those places where it's some times difficult to get to with tweezers: between toes, in the middle of a head full of dark hair, etc.
Apply a glob of liquid soap to a cotton ball. Cover the tick with the soap-soaked cotton ball and swab it for a few seconds
This technique has worked every time I've used it (and that was frequently), and it's much less traumatic for the patient and easier for me.
Unless someone is allergic to soap, I can't see that this would be damaging in any way. I even had my doctor's wife call me for advice because she had one stuck to her back and she couldn't reach it with tweezers. She used this method and immediately called me back to say, 'It worked!'"
Origins: In addition to their being repulsive-looking bugs that survive by latching onto warm-blooded victims to suck blood from them, there is another reason to regard ticks with horror: they can deliver a deadly payload of disease to those they are making a meal of. These arachnids
Although these home remedies are effective in some cases, however, those in the know about tick removal warn against them. Countermeasures of such nature don't always work to encourage ticks to detach from skin promptly (if at all), and even if such measures do seemingly aid the process of removing the critters, they may also make matters worse by stimulating the creatures to release additional saliva or regurgitate their gut contents, acts that increase the chance of their transmitting pathogens to their hosts. A 2006 journal article review of published literature on tick removal methods reported that:
Experimental evidence suggests that chemical irritants are ineffective at persuading ticks to detach, and risk triggering injection of salivary fluids and possible transmission of disease-causing microbes. In addition, suffocating ticks by smothering them with petroleum jelly is an ineffective method of killing them because they have such a low respiratory rate (only requiring
You also may want to place the tick in a small container, like a pill container, and bring it to your vet for identification. Never use a burned match, petroleum jelly, or nail polish to try to remove ticks. These methods are ineffective.
Do NOT twist the tick when pulling it out.
Do NOT try to kill, smother, or lubricate the tick with oil, alcohol, vaseline, or similar material.
- Grasp the tick close to its head or mouth with tweezers. Do not use your bare fingers. If needed, use a tissue or paper towel.
- Pull it straight out with a slow and steady motion. Avoid squeezing or crushing the tick. Be careful not to leave the head embedded in the skin.
- Clean the area thoroughly with soap and water. Also wash your hands thoroughly.
- Save the tick in a jar and watch carefully for the next week or two for signs of Lyme disease.
- If all parts of the tick cannot be removed, get medical help. Bring the tick in the jar to your doctor's appointment.
- Avoid tick-prone areas whenever possible.
- When in areas where ticks may be present, wear clothing that covers the arms and legs, with cuffs fastened and pants tucked into boots and socks.
- Use a tick repellent that contains DEET and reapply it every
1-2 hoursfor maximum protection.
Barbara "keep the louse out of the house" Mikkelson
| Tick Removal
(Centers for Disease Control)
| How to Remove a Tick
(U.S. Food and Drug Administration)
Fite, Amanda. "Once Bitten; Summer Pests Pack More Than an Itch." Tulsa World. 25 July 2001. The Washington Post. "Tick Bites." 23 July 2002 (p. F2).