Fact check: Best method for tick removal is tweezers, not liquid soap and cotton ballApril 19, 2021
The claim: A tick can be safely removed by covering it in a soap-soaked cotton ball
A viral post offering advice on using soap and a cotton ball for tick removal has recently resurfaced on social media.
The March 2014 post, which has been shared over 7,000 times, attributes the information to an alleged nurse who it says “discovered a safe, easy way to remove ticks where they automatically withdraw themselves.”
The post explains this way: “Apply a glob of liquid soap to a cotton ball. Cover the tick with the soap-soaked cotton ball and swab it for a few seconds (15-20); the tick will come out on its own and be stuck to the cotton ball when you lift it away.”
Similar versions of the claim have recently been shared by Facebook pages.USA TODAY reached out to the Facebook pages and user for comment.
Fact check: No, Queen Elizabeth II was not laughing at a prank played by Prince Philip
No evidence to support soap method
While different sites over the years have recommended the liquid soap tick removal method, experts and health officials say it’s ineffective.
“Some people firmly believe the Dawn dish detergent tick removal method works,” Thomas Mather with the University of Rhode Island’s TickEncounter told USA TODAY. “When we tried it with many different types of attached ticks, we were unsuccessful in removing any ticks.”
He said the method may appear effective in some cases due simply to coincidence. People might be seeing ticks back out because they are applying it to male ticks, which are “intermittent blood feeders” that only attach for a short period of time.
“Female ticks stay attached for a week or longer. They don’t want to lose their host through host grooming so they lock themselves into the skin with mouthparts having backward pointing barbs to catch the skin, and with a cement substance secreted with their saliva,” Mather said via email.
Dr. Brendan Byrne, an assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine of the University of Michigan Medical School, said reported methods of dousing the tick with soap, petroleum jelly, alcohol or stabbing them with needles are dangerous methods “in almost all cases.”
“They can all irritate the tick, causing it to regurgitate its stomach contents back into you.” Byrne said via email. ” I can’t recommend any of these methods.”
Similarly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the University of Michigan Health System and Medline Plus caution against smothering the tick with any sort of oil, alcohol, Vaseline or other substance.
A May 2017 study in the Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine reviewed methods to remove a tick and concluded chemical treatments such as gasoline, petroleum jelly, clear fingernail polish or methylated spirit “were all of very low quality.”
6 ways to keep ticks out of your home (Photo: Reviewed.com)
Eurosurveillance.org notes there is “very limited experimental evidence” to support most suggested tick removal methods. The site adds that chemical irritants are not only ineffective at getting ticks to detach but also risk triggering injection of salivary fluids and possible transmission of disease-causing microbes.
Fact check:COVID-19 vaccines won’t cause a zombie apocalypse
Tweezers are recommended
Instead of using soap or other liquids to remove a tick, health officials suggest using fine-tipped tweezers.
The tick’s mouthparts should be grasped using pointed tweezers and pulled out steadily, according to the Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Research Center. Twisting and pulling back sharply could tear the mouthparts from the tick and leave them embedded in the skin.
The tweezer method is also endorsed by organizations such as the CDC, the Humane Society and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Fact check:Neither McDonald’s nor Coca-Cola announced they would no longer hire white executives
Our rating: False
The claim that liquid soap is an effective way to remove ticks is FALSE, based on our research. Experts say no evidence supports using soap, heat, Vaseline or other substances to remove ticks, as those can actually exacerbate the situation without causing the tick to detach. Health officials agree grasping a tick gently with pointed tweezers is the safest and most effective method to remove it from the skin.
Our fact-check sources:
- Centers for Diseased Control and Prevention, accessed April 16, “Ticks, Removing a tick”
- Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Research Center, Feb. 27, 2019, “What to Do After a Tick Bite”
- Wiley Online Library, May 2, 2017, “Effective methods for tick removal: A systematic review”
- University of Michigan Health System, accessed April 16, “Ticks: How to Avoid and Remove Ticks”
- MedlinePlus.gov, accessed April 16, “Tick Removal”
- Eurosurveillance, accessed April 16, “Removal of ticks: a review of the literature”
- Humane Society, accessed April 16, “Getting a tick off of your dog”
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, accessed April 16, “Fleas and Ticks”
- Thomas Mather, April 16, email correspondence
- Brendan Byrne, April 17, email correspondence
- Snopes, July 3, 2006, Should You Use Liquid Soap to Remove Ticks?
- PolitiFact, June 7, 2019, No, liquid soap is not an effective way to remove ticks. Use tweezers instead, experts say
Thank you for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app or electronic newspaper replica here.
Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.
Source: Read Full Article