In the article "Taking the Bite Out of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever," (Nursing2008, June)*, the author warned against using home remedies for removing a tick, such as smothering it with petroleum jelly. I once worked with a nurse practitioner who had his own remedy: lidocaine and epinephrine injected intradermally beneath the tick. He said that this local anesthetic causes vasoconstriction, depriving the tick of blood and encouraging it to let go. Has anyone ever tested this remedy?-D.W., OREG.
Yes, and it didn't work any better than other remedies intended to create an unpleasant environment for the tick.1 A small animal study conducted by Lee, et al., in the 1990s demonstrated that ticks don't voluntarily leave the host within an hour of skin site injection with 1% lidocaine, 1% lidocaine and epinephrine, or 1% chloroprocaine.2 Although such a small study isn't conclusive, you should stick with the CDC's recommendation: Using tweezers, grasp the tick at the head very close to the skin and pull straight back with a gentle but steady motion. Then wash the bite site with soap and water. Methods that irritate or damage the tick may encourage it to regurgitate contaminated fluid, increasing infection risk.3
1. Needham GR. Evaluation of five popular methods for tick removal. Pediatrics. 75:997-1002, June 1985 [Context Link]
2. Lee MD, et al. Evaluation of subcutaneous injection of local anesthetic agents as a method of tick removal. American Journal of Emergency Medicine. 13(1):14-16, January 1995. [Context Link]
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/lyme/index.htm. Accessed July 19, 2008. [Context Link]
* Individual subscribers can also access this article free online at http://www.nursing2008.com. [Context Link]