Disclaimer: Teaching English in Berlin is not able to offer medical advice. In event of tick bite, centipede burn, moth assault, bee sting, earwig strike or ant attack, you are advised to contact a qualified medical practitioner.
What is a tick? It’s a serious question. One that I didn’t know the answer to, prior to last year’s trip to Zagreb in Croatia. Well, at least I knew the teacher definition:
A mark consisting on diagonally opposing lines, one of which is approximately 3 times the length of the other. Used as an indication of academic merit, or to test one’s new red pen
I wasn’t so familiar with the insect variety however. In fact, my only knowledge on this subject came from The Simpsons. To quote Marge Simpson:
I never had a tick bury in so deep. Little guys have got a mind of their own
So back to the Zagreb trip. We went out walking one day of our trip in the forest just North of the city. The main trail kind of disappeared, so we took a short cut through the undergrowth. Nothing wrong with that of course. Three days later, after taking a shower, I noticed two small black dots about 2 mm in size at the top of my right thigh. I had no idea what these things could be. Then thinking back to the aforementioned Simpsons episode and it clicked – I had a tick (or two).
A quick Google search turned up a whole host of frightening tick-related consequences. Lyme disease, Colorado tick fever (although I guessed that was only applicable in America) and babesiosis (which sounds like something from a bad chat up line).
Get it out of me!
I also learnt that the best way to remove said ticks was to use a pair of tweezers and pull firmly. At this moment, a feeling of relief swept over me. Relief that the ticks hadn’t built their fleshy house 2 inches North West. Pulling diseased insects out of the old chap with tweezers isn’t exactly top of my bucket list.
So despite TEIB’s medical disclaimer above, here’s the removal procedure:
- Get a pair of metal tweezers and locate the offending tick
- Grip the black part of the tick as close as possible to the skin with the tweezers
- Pull on the tick firmly. It’s very important not to jerk, rip or twist the tick out – this may tear the tick in half, leaving the disease transmitting jaws lodged in your body. Although this will kill the tick, so it’s worse for him/her*
- Disinfect the skin area around the ex-tick promptly
- Dispose of the tick safely
So the end of the story? Well, unfortunately I fell foul of step 3. I pulled too sharply and left some of the tick inside. I had to go to a dermatologist who then removed the last of Mr. Tick. So there’s the moral of the story. If you have a tick, don’t try and be a hero. Just go to a medical professional, who can do it all for you.
*Do ticks have genders? I remember reading that seahorses are hermaphrodites. Maybe ticks are too? Answers on a postcard.