How to Remove a Tick With a Stuck Head, Healthy Living

How to Remove a Tick With a Stuck Head

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When a tick bites you, it inserts barbs that resemble reverse harpoons into the skin to securely attach itself. To further ensure secure attachment, ticks also secrete a tacky, adhesive substance. For these reasons, it can often be difficult to remove a tick completely, and mouthparts can be left behind. When these mouthparts remain behind, they can cause a secondary infection, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. It is important to remove the entire tick—body and head—when it has firmly attached itself.

Pull the skin taut surrounding the tick bite.

Grasp the tick gently with a pair of fine-tipped tweezers, or special tick-removal tweezers, as close to your skin as possible. Be very careful not to squeeze the head or body of the tick.

Apply a small amount of pressure to the tick and slowly pull it straight out in one smooth motion. Do not attempt to twist the tick, because this may cause the mouthparts to remain behind.

Place the tick in a small container and close the lid tightly. Label the container with the date of the tick removal and the location where you were bitten.

Wash your hands well. Use rubbing alcohol to disinfect the tweezers and the tick bite.

If you are concerned about potential tick-borne illness, take the container with the tick to a local health center or veterinarian for testing and identification.

If a tick’s mouthparts remain after the tick has been removed, you have two options, according to Mary M. Gottesman, Ph.D., RN, CPNP, FAAN of The Ohio State University. You can either wait for the mouthparts to work their way out of the skin naturally while keeping the area disinfected, or you can remove them with a clean needle in the same way you would remove a splinter. Either way, be sure to keep the area clean and watch for any signs of infection or symptoms of tick-borne illness.

Check yourself often for ticks when outside; the longer a tick feeds, the more likely it is to transmit tick-borne illnesses.

Never apply petroleum jelly to the tick in an attempt to suffocate it. Not only does this not work, but it makes tick removal difficult.

Do not attempt to burn a tick or place a match near the skin.

Finding the tick in time could save you from Lyme!

“Doesn’t it typically happen during the summer?” asked a worried lady that had walked into my clinic in November with a growing circular rash on her wrist. She was referring, of course, to Lyme disease, that scourge of outdoor enthusiasts. While the peak season for Lyme disease is indeed summer, the ticks that transmit it are active March through December. And, while this may be off-season for the ticks, it is a good time to catch up on how to stay safe in the not-so-distant spring.

What is Lyme disease, and how do you treat it?

Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi which is spread to people through the bite of infected black-legged ticks, also popularly known as “deer ticks.” Early symptoms include a typical enlarging red rash (“bullseye rash”) at the site of the tick bite. This is common, but not everyone with Lyme disease gets this rash. Other signs of Lyme include flu-like symptoms (fever, fatigue, and headache). If left untreated, over time the infection can lead to Bell’s palsy (paralysis or weakness of facial muscles on one side), meningitis (inflammation in the brain and spinal cord), heart rhythm problems, and joint pain and swelling. Additional symptoms can include headaches and stiff neck, tingling and numbness (often in the hands and feet), and rarely, inflammation of the eyes.

The diagnosis is usually based on a person’s symptoms, the presence of the typical rash, and a history of likely exposure to infected ticks. Lab tests for Lyme disease do not turn positive until three to four weeks after the infection. Usually doctors do not wait for the results of these tests during the early stage of the disease, to begin treatment.

Once diagnosed, Lyme disease can be successfully treated with a few weeks of oral antibiotics. Doxycycline is the antibiotic prescribed to all but pregnant women and children, who usually get the antibiotics amoxicillin or cefuroxime. For people with severe heart or neurological symptoms of Lyme, intravenous antibiotics are usually necessary.

Here’s what you can do to keep from getting Lyme disease

As always, prevention is superior to cure. Right now, there is no Lyme vaccine available for people. There is a Lyme vaccine available for dogs! However, it does not protect against other tick-borne diseases, hence preventive measures against ticks are still necessary. Most dogs exposed to Lyme disease do not have symptoms. Some develop fever, lack of appetite, lameness, and joint swelling. Therefore, staying safe requires preparation and vigilance. The ticks that transmit Lyme disease are tiny, and you can’t feel it when a tick attaches to you. They may even make their way into your home by attaching themselves to pets. Here are some steps to follow to remain safe.

  • Avoid wooded and bushy areas with tall grass and stick to the center of trails when hiking.
  • Wear light clothing to make ticks easier to detect.
  • Wear long pants tucked into socks to keep ticks on the outside of clothes.
  • Use DEET or a permethrin-based tick repellent on clothing and outdoor gear.
  • Pesticides like permethrin, fipronil, or amitraz may be used on dogs. These are available in the form of powders, impregnated collars, sprays, or topical treatments.
  • Do remember to never use tick repellents that are intended for dogs on a cat! Cats are extremely sensitive to a variety of chemicals.
  • When back home, shower or bathe as soon as possible and carefully inspect the entire body to remove any attached ticks. It takes up to 36 hours for the bacterium to be transferred after the tick bite. Prompt removal of the tick will reduce the chance of infection.
  • Tumble dry clothes on high heat for at least 10 minutes to kill ticks.
  • Carefully examine children and pets after outdoor activity.
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If you find a tick along for the ride, here’s what you need to do

Use thin tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible. Pull the tick straight upward with steady even pressure to remove the tick with the mouthparts intact. Squeezing the tick will not increase the risk of infection. Adult ticks are a lot more difficult to remove intact. If the mouthparts break off, the chance of getting Lyme disease is the same as if you hadn’t removed the tick at all. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water. Watch for signs and symptoms of Lyme disease for up to 30 days.

See your doctor within 72 hours of the tick removal and if the tick removed was swollen. You may benefit from preventive antibiotics. This is especially important if you live in (or have visited) an area where deer ticks are common.

Create a tick-free zone around your home

Need a little more motivation to mow the lawn or rake the yard? Remember that ticks lurk in tall grasses, brush, and weeds around homes and at the edge of lawns. Remove any old furniture, trash, or mattresses from the yard that may give the ticks a place to hide. Place a three-foot-wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas and around patios and play equipment to restrict tick migration into recreational areas. Stack wood neatly in a dry area (this discourages rodents that carry the ticks). Keep playground equipment, decks, and patios away from yard edges and trees, and place them in a sunny location if possible.

Lyme disease is a painful but preventable condition. When you enjoy the outdoors this year, pay close attention to your environment and follow the steps mentioned above to stay safe and keep your family and your pets safe too!


Meryl P. Littman, Richard E. Goldstein, Mary A. Labato, Michael R. Lappin, and George E. Moore. ACVIM Small Animal Consensus Statement on Lyme Disease in Dogs: Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention [PDF, 13 pages]. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, March 2006

This summer has been dubbed a ‘tick apocalypse’ — here’s how to spot a tick a bite

The INSIDER Summary:

  • Experts say that 2017 could be one of the worst tick seasons ever.
  • Prevention is the best defense against tick-borne disease, but everyone should know how to spot a bite, too.
  • Always conduct a thorough search of your skin when you come inside, look for distinctive tick-related rashes, and pay attention to symptoms like fever, chills, and aches.

For being such tiny little animals, ticks cause some enormous problems.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that cases of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases have been steadily rising in the US — and this particular tick season might be the worst yet.

In the northeast, a milder winter set the stage for a surge in ticks that can carry dangerous bacteria and viruses, according to experts at Cornell University. One news station in Massachusetts even dubbed this season a potential «tick apocalypse.»

Even scarier is that some tick-borne disease can have serious complications or even be fatal. Experts say the best defense is prevention — think insect repellent, avoiding tick-heavy areas, and showering right when you get inside — but you should also know how to spot a tick bite if you happen to get one.

Here’s what you need to do:

1. Thoroughly check your skin.

The best way to spot a tick bite is to actually see a tick on your skin. If you’ve been outside in a grassy, brushy, or wooded area — especially if you live in one of the country’s tick hotspots — always check your skin once you’re inside.

The CDC says you should check your entire body, but pay special attention to more hidden areas, like your underarms, your ears, inside your belly button, the backs of your knees, between your legs, your waist, and especially your scalp and hair. Break out a mirror to check the parts of yourself that are difficult to see, and use a fine-tooth comb to carefully look through hair.

Keep in mind that some ticks are extremely small, so it pays to be extra careful. An adult deer tick — the kind that causes Lyme and five other diseases — grows only as big as a sesame seed, for example.

If you do see a tick embedded in your skin, don’t panic. Here’s a step-by-step guide for what to do.

2. Look for a rash.

Not all tick bites lead to tick-borne disease. But if you do develop one of these illnesses, there’s a chance you’ll get a rash. There are 5 different tick-borne diseases that all produce slightly different rashes, according to the CDC. Here’s the full breakdown:

  • Lyme disease: 70–80% of people who get Lyme get a rash at the site of the bite. It usually appears 3 to 30 days after a bite, and though it may feel warm to the touch and slowly expand in size, it’s usually not painful or itchy. A Lyme rash may take on the classic «bullseye» shape, but it might not — here’s a photo gallery showing all the different ways a Lyme rash can look. It can also appear anywhere on the body, not just at the site of the bite.
  • Southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI): The STARI rash is almost identical to the Lyme rash, and appears at the site of the bite.
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF): The RMSF rash can vary a lot from person to person, though it occurs in about 90% of infected people. Usually, it starts 2 to 5 days after the onset of the illness, showing up as small, flat, pink, non-itchy spots on wrists, forearms, and ankles. Then it can spread to other parts of the body, In 35–60% of cases, the rash can become purple and spotty starting at day 6 or later.
  • Tularemia: With this illness, it’s common for a skin ulcer to appear at the site of the bite. The nearby lymph nodes will swell up, too.
  • Ehrlichiosis: Rashes only appear in about 30% of adult ehrlichiosis cases, but they are possible. The rash can range from flat, red and splotchy to purple and spotty, and it’s more generalized, not confined to the site of the bite. It’s also not itchy.

3. But remember that not everyone gets a rash.

Rashes don’t occur in every case of tick-borne disease, so it’s good to know the other common symptoms: fever, chills, fatigue, headache, muscle pains, and sore joints.

If you know you’ve been bitten by a tick and you experience any of the symptoms listed above, see a doctor, stat. The CDC notes that catching and treating tick-borne diseases early is key to reducing potential complications.

Top 10 Causes Of Stress And How To Beat Them

Check out our top 10 common causes of stress and solutions to help you beat each of these worrisome stress factors.

realbuzz team

Check out our top 10 common causes of stress and solutions to help you beat each of these worrisome stress factors.

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Stress is usually caused by too much pressure being put on us by others — or in some cases by ourselves — and if stress is left unchecked, it can lead to an inability to function effectively and cope under pressure. Here are some of the most common causes of stress with solutions and strategies on how to overcome them.

Frequently you can be running around all day trying to balance all your tasks at work and at home, yet still not manage to tick everything off your list. Sometimes this can be due to the demands that are placed upon you being unrealistic, but often it simply comes down to poor time management and not setting your priorities.

Solution: Learn to manage your time more effectively

It may sound obvious, but better time management really can reduce your stress. Many of us waste a lot of time doing unimportant tasks — so make sure you always prioritise your day and do the important jobs first. Also, do the jobs that you don’t want to do before moving onto the more pleasant tasks, as just thinking about unpleasant jobs can cause stress.

While some people might adopt an unhealthy lifestyle due to lack of time — for example by turning to fast food because they haven’t time to eat properly — others may have an unhealthy lifestyle because they are already stressed — for example by turning to smoking as coping mechanisms. Whatever the reason, an unhealthy lifestyle can reduce your ability to cope with stress, and in some circumstances it may actually increase your stress levels.

Solution: Make small changes towards a healthier lifestyle

Having a healthy diet, doing regular exercise, and getting enough sleep means that your body will be able to cope with the stress that is thrown your way. Exercise in particular can be great for stress relief — especially if it involves taking your stress out on a ball or other inanimate object! Also, by knowing you’re leading a healthy lifestyle, you’ll be in a more positive frame of mind and will be better able to cope.

You may have a tendency to take on too much both at work and in your home life, perhaps because you don’t want to let people down. If you do this, however, it will frequently lead to you stressing about having too much to do and not managing to achieve everything you have taken on. Trying to take too much on will also mean you won’t be able to give what you do your best.

Solution: Know your limitations and don’t take on too much

It’s better to be honest and tell people what your true limitations are. This way, you can avoid getting unnecessarily stressed by not taking more on than you can comfortably handle at any given time. It’s better to be slightly cautious rather than end up doing more than you should be doing — and remember: it’s not a sign of weakness to ask for a helping hand, so seek help if you need it.

If relationships are strained at home or in the workplace, then it’s more than likely that you’ll be stressed about them. Conflicts might occur due to disagreements about how things should be done — and so you might feel that you have to stand your ground to make progress — but ultimately a lot of hot air will only contribute to your stress levels.

Solution: Avoid unnecessary conflicts

While arguments may not wholly be avoidable, it makes sense to steer clear of or prevent conflicts whenever possible. There’s no need to be argumentative or confrontational; simply try to arrive at a solution that both parties are reasonably happy with. Always remember that frank discussion is better than bitter dispute.

Some people don’t have the ability to accept things as they are or realize that certain situations are out of their control. If you try to change something that you really can’t change, then you’ll just be creating unnecessary stress that you can do without. Plus, all that time spent stressing about it means you’ll be unable to concentrate on the other things that you could be doing — which may make you even more stressed.

Solution: Accept the things you can’t change

Changing a difficult situation is not always possible, and if that’s the case then it is best to accept and come to terms with the fact that you can’t do anything. It may help to talk a situation over with somebody else, as they may be able to help you see it in a more positive light or from a different and less stressful perspective. Talking over things can help to prevent your perception of a situation from getting out of proportion.

Being constantly on the go means that you will be in a heightened state of tension all the time and your body will never have the chance to get rid of your stress. Failing to take time out will also reduce your effectiveness in the long run.

Solution: Take time out and recharge your batteries

Taking a break may mean that you can perform much better afterwards, and as such you will easily make up the time you have used for relaxing as well as feel more refreshed. Even just ‘taking five’ can recharge your batteries and give you greater clarity of thought. Relaxation will help your body return to its normal healthy state.

Stress may be caused by a non-work-related issue such as a serious illness in the family, having to care for dependents, a bereavement, moving house, or debt problems. Often these issues are unavoidable and not something that you can readily deal with — but it’s worth trying to deal with them rather putting them off or trying to ignore them.

Solution: Take time off or change your working practices

If such issues are causing you stress and an inability to do your job, then it may be best to take time off to deal with the issues. If there’s an ongoing problem, then you could try to approach your employer to ask for more flexible working arrangements — which may allow you to cope better with those issues.

Some people are often able to laugh in the face of adversity and seem to be able to brush aside problems and deal with them effectively. They essentially don’t allow themselves to become overly stressed. However, other people may not see the humour in some situations, and this may cause them to become more stressed.

Solution: Harness the power of laughter

Adopting a humorous view towards life’s situations can take the edge off everyday stressors.

Not being in ‘serious mode’ all the time can help you to have clearer thinking — and laughing has been clinically proven to lower blood pressure and reduce stress hormones. So, try to see the funny side of things among these other instant health boosting ideas.

Becoming stressed in some situations is sometimes unavoidable, and inevitably there are situations in which we can expect to be stressed from time to time, such as in the workplace or when you’re stuck in traffic and you need to get somewhere quickly.

Solution: Avoid situations that place you under stress

The way to avoid or minimise some of the stress you may be under is to stay away from situations that stress you out. For example, if you get stressed when you shop in the supermarket, try doing your grocery shopping online instead. If, however, a stressful situation is unavoidable — such as being in the workplace — then try to follow some of the other tips in this article, which will help to ease your stress.

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Significant changes in things that we have become accustomed to can be a real cause of stress. For example, changing your job or moving house may be among the most stressful things you will do in your lifetime — which is possibly why most of us try to do it infrequently! Also, the process leading up to the change may be stressful in itself.

Solution: Welcome change as a challenge

If you see change as a positive rather than a negative challenge, then any stress that accompanies the change will be less likely to affect you. A new job or new home, for example, should be viewed as new beginning, and should be something to look forward to rather than fear.

Preventing stress …

There are many causes of stress, as we have seen, but by following some of the solutions suggested here, you should be better able to deal with stress when it arises. Alternatively, if you avoid or deal the causes of stress that we have outlined, you could even avoid stress before it occurs!

Why Is It So Hard to Get a Lyme Disease Diagnosis?

Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness that often has vague symptoms doctors brush off or misdiagnose. Here’s why.

Lyme disease, a tick-borne illness that can cause flu-like symptoms and a recognizable bulls-eye rash, can be notoriously difficult to diagnose.

Singer Avril Lavigne, for example, has been very vocal about her struggle with getting a Lyme disease diagnosis. She told Good Morning America in 2015 that she saw many doctors and underwent a battery of tests, but that it wasn’t until she found a Lyme disease specialist that she was given a correct diagnosis.

«I was in Los Angeles, literally, like the worst time in my life and I was seeing, like, every specialist and literally, the top doctors,» Lavigne explained. She said that some of these experts misdiagnosed her symptoms—debilitating pain and fatigue—as chronic fatigue syndrome or depression, while others told her she was simply dehydrated or exhausted from touring.

«This is what they do to a lot of people who have Lyme disease,» she said. «They don’t have an answer for them so they tell them, like, ‘You’re crazy.'»

Lavigne started to suspect she had Lyme disease a few months after she began feeling exhausted and lightheaded. Her symptoms eventually got so bad, she felt like she couldn’t breathe, talk, or move. «I thought I was dying,» she told People.

So why did it take so long for Lavigne to get answers? And could her experience happen to others, as well?

Fortunately, most cases of Lyme disease are diagnosed and treated much earlier, says Anne R. Bass, MD, a rheumatologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, and this degree of misdiagnosis isn’t very common. But pinpointing this type of infection is not an exact science, and symptoms are not always crystal clear.

«Many people will develop a bulls-eye rash, which makes it fairly easy to diagnose,» she says. But this telltale symptom is sometimes faint or on hidden parts of the body, and some people don’t get one at all.

«Other early symptoms, like fever or aches and pains, could be attributed to a virus or flu,» says Dr. Bass. «So if you don’t see a rash, you might not even go to the doctor—or it’s possible your doctor might not recognize it.» (Some Lyme disease cases go away on their own, she adds, so it’s possible to have had it and never known.)

Most physicians, especially those who practice in tick hotspots like the northeastern United States, know to look out for Lyme disease symptoms during spring and summer months. But the disease is less prevalent in Southern California, where Lavigne said she was seeking treatment. If a patient hasn’t had a rash and doesn’t remember being bitten, doctors there may be slower to identify ticks as a potential factor.

Dr. Bass says that anyone who’s experienced fatigue or joint pain for several months should think back to when their symptoms started and whether they spent time in area of the country known for Lyme disease outbreaks. A blood test cannot confirm whether you are currently infected, but it can tell if you have been exposed to Lyme bacterium in the past. (It actually tests for antibodies, which develop a few weeks after a person has been infected.) Doctors can use these test results, along with a person’s current symptoms, to make a Lyme disease diagnosis.

«But even these test results can be complex and confusing, especially for physicians who aren’t used to dealing with Lyme,» Dr. Bass says. Some doctors also believe that Lyme disease can be diagnosed without a positive blood test, she adds—although there’s no evidence that these methods are accurate or that antibiotics, in these cases, work any better than placebo.

(Lavigne did not reveal exactly how she was diagnosed or whether she tested positive for Lyme antibodies, although she did say she had blood tests when she first became ill.)

Once Lyme disease is diagnosed, two to three weeks of oral antibiotics usually help patients feel better and eliminate all symptoms. If it goes untreated for several months, however, a longer course of drugs is often needed. In extreme cases, antibiotics may also be given through an IV.

Dr. Bass says that it’s uncommon for patients to be prescribed antibiotics for more than a month, even if they continue to experience fatigue and pain. «It does take longer for them to get better when there is a delay in diagnosis, but it doesn’t really change our duration or course of treatment,» she says. «They may just need to rest and take it easy a bit longer until they have their energy back.»

Lavigne said she expects to make a full recovery. That’s a good thing, since 10% to 20% of people with Lyme disease continue to experience symptoms for months or even years after treatment. This condition is known as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome.

Doctors aren’t sure what causes post Lyme syndrome (some believe that symptoms are due to other tick-borne illnesses, or to chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis), and treatments like long-term antibiotic therapy are controversial. But a recent study from Johns Hopkins University showed that one thing is clear: Prolonged Lyme-related illness is more common than was once believed.

“Our data show that many people who have been diagnosed with Lyme disease are in fact going back to the doctor complaining of persistent symptoms, getting multiple tests, and being retreated,” the study authors said in a news release. «It is clear that we need effective, cost-effective, and compassionate management of these patients to improve their outcomes, even if we don’t know what to call the disease.”

If you have a story about being misdiagnosed, email us at [email protected]

This post was originally published on June 30, 2015 and updated for accuracy.

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