Tick myths

Ticks: Myths and Facts

Myth: Applying petroleum jelly or dish soap to a tick will cause it to release and crawl away.
Myth: Burning an attached tick with a lighter will kill it.
Fact: Applying anything to a tick prior to removal is unnecessary and potentially harmful! It will NOT encourage the tick to withdraw. If the tick senses danger, it may “spit” its gut contents into the bite, making exposure to disease even more likely! Burning an attached tick is even more dangerous– the tick is protected by its strong exoskeleton, but your skin is not! To safely remove a tick, keep it simple: use fine tipped tweezers or a tick removal tool.

Myth: If you find a tick on your body, you should take antibiotics to prevent disease.
Fact: Only your doctor can decide what treatment is best for you. Removing ticks promptly reduces the risk of infection dramatically, so regular and thorough tick checks are your best medicine! Unnecessary antibiotic use is a major public health concern because it reduces the effectiveness of these medicines for everyone.

Myth: You can test the tick that bit you to see if you have Lyme disease.
Fact: Individual ticks can be tested for Lyme disease, but that does not tell you whether the tick transmitted the disease to you. Also, if you were exposed to one tick, you may have been exposed to others, so a negative result does not mean you don’t have the disease! Human diagnosis is based on human signs and symptoms, not tick lab results.

Myth: Some people get chronic Lyme disease and are sick for the rest of their lives.
Fact: Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics. Sometimes, especially after severe illness, people can have long-term complications like arthritis and muscle pain. This is called post-Lyme disease treatment syndrome, and it usually resolves within a year.

Myth: Tick bites can make you allergic to meat?!
Fact: Actually, yes! Sort of, maybe! In very rare cases, repeated exposure to Lone Star tick bites is associated with the development of beef allergy. Scientists think this is because a protein in the Lone Star tick’s saliva is similar to a meat protein and can increase sensitivity. While this one might be partly true, the primary concern with ticks remains disease transmission.

Heard any other strange or questionable tick myths? Call our office and get the facts! 585-243-7280

Arm yourself with the truth– always check a reputable source before believing what you read on social media!
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Tick Information
New York State Department of Health Tick Disease Information