August 31, 2013

How to Removing Ticks and Leeches

It's the plight of most of those who fish to find ourselves in tick and leech country. Whether you're slogging through the bush to find that hidden lake or taking a dip to wash off a couple days of stink, you are likely to encounter ticks or leeches on your trip. Here are my simple suggestions.

How to Remove a Tick:
You'll need insect repellent, pointed-tip tweezers, and rubbing alcohol. All generally found in a well-stocked tackle box. Rubbing alcohol can often be purchased in individual wipe packets that are great for a tackle box.
  1. I like to put a little insect repellent right on the tick before I start the removal process. Some use rubbing alcohol. But insect repellent seems to force them to loosen their grip a little better.
  2. Grab the tick with the tweezers as close to  the tick's head as possible.
  3. Slowly and steadily pull the tick away from the skin. 
  4. Use rubbing alcohol to thoroughly clean the skin. If you don't have rubbing alcohol, check your first-aid kit for other sterilizing products.
Guess what does not work? Anything you've heard to put on the tick (nail polish, a hot match or cigarette, a lubricant, salt, soap, etc.) to make the tick drop loose from your skin. Well, they may work, but your goal is to get the tick off as soon as you see it, not take it for a tour of the bush country.

How to Remove a Leech:
Leeches attach quickly. Left alone, they will eventually let go. But who wants to live with that!? Did you know leeches inject a numbing agent into your skin when they attach? Did you know leeches have teeth and that's how they attach to you?
You'll need your finger nail or a small knife blade and rubbing alcohol. Again, easy items for your tackle box.
  1. Get your fingernail (of knife if you have very short nails) up under the leech's mouth and lift it off. Grabbing the leech by the body and trying to pull it off generally does not work. You'll loose your grip on the leech or tear the leech in half. Use your nail or a blade to leverage the leech off. Be careful if you are using a knife blade. If you've got a pocket knife with a less sharp tool, use that. The thinner the better as you need to get up underneath the mouth. 
  2. Use rubbing alcohol to thoroughly clean the skin. If you don't have rubbing alcohol, check your first-aid kit for other sterilizing products.
And what does not work? The same as for ticks. Anything that will make the leech let go of your skin may also cause it to regurgitate its stomach contents into your skin and cause an infection.