Saturday, May 30, 2009

Tick Heads and Tweezers

We live in the country, so ticks are an every day summer occurrence. Tick checks are a must. These are usually more affective if you have a tick-checking partner, but alas...I am single.

My SiL decided she must do a tick check on the kids during their baths because they had spent a lot of time outside today. Oh, and there was the moment when a rather large tick was crawling around on NJ's forehead. As she brought each kid down, my SiL would let us know the status of the tick-check. NJ was the first and she had, oddly enough, found a seed tick (so named because they are the size of a small seed, although they can be much smaller than this one was) in his ear. I volunteered to remove said tick with tweezers.

NJ happily followed me into the bathroom and sat on my lap. Then I got out the tweezers and cocked back his head for a little tick extraction. The crying started almost immediately. I wasn't hurting him, but he is only a year and a half and I'm sure his understanding of a metal instrument coming at his head was beyond his grasp. I think the tick was already dead and still hanging on (they usually do that), because when I pulled on the tick, he came apart, with the head still attached to NJ.

Picture of a small tick, sometimes referred to as a seed tick

Now here is where I would like to dispell some tick rumors. I am constantly amused at how ridiculous people will react to ticks. I've seen several reality shows where they find a tick on a dog and freak out! There are calls to vets, Google searches and, for some reason, usually a match that they light and then blow out in order to stick the match head on the tick. This is done in order to get the tick to release. There's always this big deal about how you are not supposed to pull the tick out because it might leave part of the head in and that would be bad. There is usually a discussion about what terrifying things would happen if the tick's head remained in the skin. I once even heard someone say that the head could chew its way through the skin and into the body and then eventually make its way up to the brain. SERIOUSLY??? Where do people come up with these things. The worst thing that could happen is you might get an infection, but I doubt it.

I've never resorted to any of the ridiculous schemes I've seen...we just pull the tick out. 99 times out of a 100, they come out whole. And that one time, you just have to get the tweezers out.

Anyway, the tick head was still in NJ's ear and I had to get it out, but the tweezers just weren't working. My brother came in when I told him what was up and we discovered that Mom's tweezers didn't quite come together at the very tip and they were making it impossible to grab onto the tick's head. My brother ends up pulling out his Swiss army knife (I'm not sure it was actually a Swiss army knife, or just like one) and using the tweezers on it to remove the rest of the tick. Crisis diverted. No brain eating. No infections.

So next time you find a tick on you or your beloved pet, just pull it out.

For more small-town moments like these, check out On the Front Porch.


Mrs. E said...

I am so glad to hear someone else say that they don't understand the freak out that people do when they find a tick. I've never understood it either!!

Wendy said...

Hey, now that really is a small town moment! Well, at least a COUNTRY moment!

Can't wait to see what you have in store for us next Sunday. :D

The Margin Wight said...

Hey, I spent of a lot of my childhood in southeastern missouri and we had ticks on us all the time. I was told by the old folk that you had to touch the tick with a hot match (not flaming) to make it back out of you, otherwise the head kept sucking on you and presumably leaving toxins behind, though the old folks never used words like "toxin." They also advised rubbing the tick with kerosene or petroleum jelly to choke it out. I like your blog, found it today. It reminds me of the old days. Plus, I feel your pain about grading. I've got a lot of that this summer, too.

Smalltown Girl said...

@ Mrs. E - I know...why do people freak out about the littlest things. I hate ticks, but they're no big deal.

@Wendy - Definitely a country moment, but I think it's those who don't live in a small town that freak out about things like ticks...they just don't know any better!

@The Margin - I've had family members who have done stuff like that for a tick that had really dug itself in, but not for your average tick bite. If they've really dug themselves in, then it may be time to bring out the matches and petroleum jelly (both of which I've seen people try). The problem is, I've never really seen those work any better than just pulling them out the old fashioned way!