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TICKED OFF!

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by Judy Antell

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We love summer! We hate having to do tick checks! Dr. Joseph Licata, a Manhattan pediatrician, has created Tick It Away, for the removal of ticks ($7.99 for a package of two at www.tickitway.com). The plastic forked device detaches ticks and keeps them intact for a doctor’s inspection.

Dr. Licata offers the following tips:


TICK BITE DON’Ts

—DON’T touch the tick with heat, such as a lighted cigarette or burnt match, or with chemicals such as Vaseline or nail polish. Why? These irritants may cause the tick to regurgitate its infectious material into the host, and also, depending on how engorged with blood the tick is, heat may actually cause it to burst, further increasing the risk of spreading infection to the host and the person removing the tick.

—DON’T rotate a tick when removing it. Why? This action tears the tick's body from its well-anchored mouthparts, leaving those mouthparts behind in the victim's skin.

—DON’T remove a tick with your fingers. Why? A tick’s swollen body is like an eyedropper. If you squeeze it, you may inject the blood and its infectious material back into the host. Another reason is that any cuts or open skin on the fingers of the person removing the tick could become contaminated with microscopic infected material excreted during the removal process.

—DON’T remove ticks with tweezers. Why?
(1) Regular tweezers are too thick to fit between a feeding tick's tiny body and the host's skin, and will therefore squeeze the tick in the process of removing it.
(2) Even fine-tipped surgeon's tweezers are tapered: only their tips can be used for effective tick removal. But because the 'safe' area of use is so small, it's difficult to control the action of these types of tweezers, so you will likely end up squeezing or crushing the tick anyway.
(3) Even if you could place the tips of a tweezer between the tick's body and the host's skin without squeezing the tick, you have an increased chance of breaking the tiny mouthparts from the tick’s body, leaving them in the host, in the process of exerting enough pressure to remove the tick.

TICK BITE DOs

—Once a tick is removed, scrub the wound with antiseptic such as alcohol or Betadine followed by antibiotic ointment or cream.

—You can either save the tick for medical analysis or dispose of it. If you save it (a good idea if removed from a human), place it in a small container or a sealable baggie. You should also add a label with the date, time, attachment site and your location. If you dispose of the tick, a good method is to use tape folded onto itself with the tick in the middle from which it can never escape or bite another person or pet.

TICK BITE PREVENTION


—Wear smooth fabrics (so ticks will have greater difficulty latching on), light colors (so those that do climb aboard will be easily visible), and tight weaves (to keep nymphs from penetrating clothing).

—Wear long sleeves and long pants tucked into high socks. Since this is not practical during hot weather, rely on more frequent inspections.

—When outdoors, travel in pairs, and inspect each other every hour or so. Examine with a clinical eye any unfamiliar ‘freckles’ that may appear along the hairline of the scalp, in folds and creases in clothing, under the armpits, around the neck and waist, and behind the knees. Inspect pets as well.

—This is no time to be modest. After the outing, make sure to inspect all skin areas thoroughly. Ticks notoriously attach in creases and skin folds; the scalp, behind the ears, armpits, groin, genitalia and behind knees are some of their favorite places.

—Take your time when you find a tick. Remove it carefully and without rushing, and try to keep the victim calm.

Poison protection
Poison ivy, oak and sumac are some of the hazards of nature. buji Block has a protective cream that you apply before you come into contact, making it great for hikes. The cream is hypoallergenic and fragrance-free, and has an SPF of 20. If you do contact poison ivy, buji Wash helps relieve the itching, by removing the toxic oil. The block and wash are $14.99 each at Rite Aid; www.bujiproducts.com.


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