Bugs and Basic First Aid

 In First Aid

            The sun streamed from its mid-day vantage point in the Texas sky but the fall temperature outside remained pleasantly cool.  Without hesitation, we snatched up our backpacks, tossed in a lunch and darted outside to go hiking.

            The trail was filled with vibrant colors; the leaves a rich Autumn hue, damp earth the color of charcoal and moss, oak intermixed with stone which twinkled as the sunlight caught hold.  The day was perfect…until we got back home.


            Unwelcome passengers can occasionally make the outdoorsman its host, particularly when venturing deep into nature.  Beneath my granddaughter’s earlobe, a dark foreign body protruded, its legs scrambling to bury deeper into her delicate four-year old skin.  I gasped in horror and immediately ran for the tweezers.  Suddenly, my hand froze, tweezers mid-air, unsure what “the right thing to do” was. 


            A list of “wives’ tales” ran through my mind as I tried to remember exactly the proper way to remove a tick.  A TICK! 

 The Proper Way to Remove a Tick?

            “Grab a needle and heat it up,” I stated at first.  “No, wait!  Maybe an extinguished match is better?  Do we have any petroleum jelly?”  I was in trouble and that nasty critter continued to scramble its legs against the air, seeking deeper refuge in my little girl’s delicate flesh.  I was going to be certain about this!  Instinctively, I clamped the tweezers over the tick as close to her skin as I could get and simply HELD ON until I could figure out what to do.  That sucker wasn’t going to get any deeper if I could help it.  Of course, reflexes – and the Basic First Aid course I’d taken years ago – kicked in.  The need to “pull it out” won out.  Ever so gently, I pulled back against the tick but it would not budge.  A little harder the second time gave results and the tick was free.  Or at least I thought it was free.  The body had snapped off but there was still the head portion buried.  I did exactly what every rational grandmother would do in this situation… I panicked!


Fortunately, there is hope for all of us “panickers.”  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), removing the tick within 24 hours by pulling it out gently with tweezers is the best method of removal.


Remove attached ticks from your skin immediately with tweezers by grasping the tick’s head parts as close to your skin as possible. Do not attempt to get ticks out of your skin by burning them or coating them with anything such as nail polish remover or petroleum jelly. If you remove a tick before it has been attached for more than 24 hours, you greatly reduce your risk of infection.  (Vector-born Diseases, www.cdc.gov)


Using the old “wives’ tale” methods such as burning the back-side of the tick or smothering it with petroleum jelly actually irritates the tick causing it to release liquid into the skin of its host which can lead to diseases, including Lyme disease. 


            On occasion, the tick’s body will snap, depositing a small sliver-like head inside the skin.  While that idea can be unsettling, it’s not dangerous.  Typically, if left alone, the human body will naturally reject and push the foreign object out.  Traumatizing the area by attempting to dig out the object can cause worse infection than allowing the body’s natural response to take place.  Of course, cleaning the area well with soap and water is always advised, followed by an application of antibacterial ointment (such as Bacitracin or Polysporin).


            Taking the proper steps to care for insect bites (including ticks) is part of the Basic First Aid information presented by SureFire CPR in Orange County, California.  Make sure to enjoy nature – learn all that you’ll need to know to be prepared for the imminent insect bites – visit SureFire CPR today and enjoy a great day with Basic First Aid.


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