Different types of ticks live in Canada. Some can transmit diseases while others are only a nuisance. Infected blacklegged ticks can transmit the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.
Removing ticks within 24-36 hours after the tick bite usually prevents infection. You can remove a tick that has latched onto you by following these steps.
1. Using clean tweezers, grasp the head as close to the skin as possible and slowly pull straight out. Try not to twist or crush the tick.
2. If the mouthparts break off and remain in the skin, remove them with tweezers or, if you are unable to remove them easily, leave them alone and let the skin heal. Consult your healthcare provider.
3. Wash the bite area and yours hands with soap and water or disinfect with alcohol hand sanitizer.
4. Try to save the tick that bit you in a sealed container and record the date of the bite. Bring it to your medical appointment as it may help the doctor in their assessment of your illness.
5. Ticks can be disposed of in household garbage once they are dead, and they can be killed by drowning them in rubbing alcohol or by freezing for several hours. Avoid squashing ticks with exposed fingers.
6. Don't try to remove the tick by using nail polish, petroleum jelly or heat to burn the tick.
Visit your health care provider as soon as possible if:
- you are not comfortable with removing a tick
- you cannot remove the tick because it has buried itself deep into your skin
If you develop symptoms of Lyme disease after being bitten, contact your health care provider right away. Tell them:
- how long you think the tick was attached to you
- where you were when you were bitten by the tick
How to avoid tick bites
- Learn where ticks and deer that carry ticks are most commonly found in your community. Avoid those areas if possible.
- Cover as much of your body as possible when working or playing in grassy or wooded areas. Wear a hat, a long-sleeved shirt, and long pants with the legs tucked into your socks. Keep in mind that it is easier to spot ticks on light-coloured clothes.
- Use insect repellents, such as products with DEET.
- Clear leaves, brush, tall grasses, woodpiles, and stone fences from around your house and the edges of your yard or garden. This may help reduce ticks and the rodents that the ticks depend on.
- Remove plants that attract deer, and use barriers to keep deer—and the deer ticks they may carry—out of your yard.
- Call your local landscaping nursery or county extension office to see if your yard can be treated for ticks with nonchemical or environmentally safe methods.
Checking for ticks
- When you come in from outdoors, check all over your body for ticks, including your groin, head, and underarms. Comb your hair with a fine-toothed comb, or have someone check your scalp.
- Ticks can come into your house on clothing, outdoor gear, and pets. These ticks can fall off and attach to you.
- Check your clothing and outdoor gear. Remove any ticks you find. Then put your clothing in a clothes dryer on high heat for 1 hour to kill any ticks that might remain.
- Check your pets for ticks after they have been outdoors.
- Check your children daily for ticks, especially during the summer months.