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Perfect conditions for ticks: Latest removal advice is really simple.

Coming across ticks in Lake Macquarie was part of growing up, especially during the warmer months. As a kid, after playing outside, mum would check us over to see if she found any. I dreaded the sound mum made when she did. The thought of it burrowing into me didn’t exactly make me want to sit still. My mum would grab the tweezers and try to remove every part of the tick. Dad would be heading out to the shed for the metho. 

However, we now know that methylated spirits, holding a lighted match, alcohol, petroleum jelly, nail polish and kerosene do not work. Nor should we twist or jerk the tick as it will just burrow further in. The latest advice for tick removal makes a lot more sense to be honest.

The hot, wet conditions of this La Nina summer of 20/21, is the perfect season for ticks. So if your family encounters a tick this year, this is what you need to know.

Paralysis ticks in Lake Macquarie

With over 70 species of ticks in Australia, it’s not hard to believe that many of them are located along the east coast. Over 95% of tick bites in our area are from the paralysis tick, commonly known as a bush tick, grass tick or seed tick. So, what does a paralysis tick look like? Well, that is dependent on what stage of life it’s in, and whether it has started to feed.  

Paralysis ticks grow from an egg to a larva, and at this stage, they are about one millimetre long and brown in colour. They then reach around 2 millimetre at the brown nymph stage. As they head into adulthood the blood-sucking tick can grow as big as five millimetres. 

When ticks have started feeding they will swell in size up to one centimetre, and become a grey-blue colour. The tricky bit is when ticks are in the very young stage and they land on your skin because they can just look like a black dot. 

Can ticks jump?

Ticks can’t jump, and they can’t fly, so how do they land on you? 

Ticks need blood to live and grow and they aren’t fussy where it comes from. It could be yours or your pets. They’ll hang around indefinitely after climbing up a long piece of grass or hiding out on a twig in a bush, waiting for you to come walking by. Once you, or your pet, is underneath them they drop, find a soft piece of skin, inject you with a substance that stops your blood clotting and commences feeding, yuk! Ticks will also climb up your body if their landing is off, and can easily crawl up to your head.


How do you know you’ve been bitten?

It’s always advisable to check yourself, your kids and your pets if you have been out for a walk or a play, especially in bushland. Don’t forget to check behind your ears. Some of the symptoms of a tick bite include swelling or redness around the bite. This can also feel itchy. Avoid the urge to scratch. If you’re suffering from tick paralysis you may get a headache, a rash, flu-like symptoms, a fever, sore glands, weak limbs, a paralysed face, walk unsteadily or not be able to cope with bright light. Well that sounds fun….not!

Allergic to ticks?

Some people are allergic to ticks. Symptoms such as a swollen throat, difficulty breathing or even collapse can happen in a severe reaction. If symptoms are severe, phone 000 immediately. If you’re experiencing an allergic reaction. you need to head straight to your Doctor or the Emergency Department at the hospital. Make sure you always have your Epipen at hand. They’ll properly remove the tick for you and monitor your symptoms. 

Did you know, ticks can cause some people to develop a serious allergy to meat and gelatin? If you’ve developed this allergy, it’s recommended that you wear a medical bracelet as you could also be allergic to some treatments in a hospital. It’s really important that you never eat any form of meat, or anything containing gelatin. 

New recommendation for tick removal

If you’re not allergic to a tick bite make sure you remove the tick as quickly as possible once you find it. The latest recommendation is to apply products that freeze the tick. The chemist is your best place of purchase. These include products like Wart-Off Freeze, Aerostart or Elastoplast Cold Spray. The tick should then die and drop off after about five minutes. Don’t use tweezers. If you are unable to remove every part of the tick you should head to a doctor for help.


Take steps to avoid a tick bite

It’s always best to try and avoid a bite in the first place. 

  • Keep your skin covered if you’re heading somewhere that ticks are likely to hang out. 
  • To do this you can wear long trousers, tucked into your socks and long sleeves when going bush. 
  • Always wear a wide-brimmed hat. 
  • Avoid heading into long grass or bush, especially after rain as this is when you’re most likely to encounter a tick. 
  • You can also use insect repellent that has DEET or picaridin as an active ingredient.
  • If you want to spray your clothes use an insecticide containing permethrin. 
  • Check yourself and your clothes when you get home. 
  • You can throw your clothes into a hot tumble drier for 20 minutes and this will kill any ticks.

Ticks are just another part of living in Lake Macquarie and by knowing the best way to address them is your ultimate solution to living with them. Enjoy the great outdoors this weekend in Lake Mac.


Health Direct: Tick bites – symptoms, treatments and prevention | healthdirect {Accessed November 2020}

Government Health: Department of Health | Tick bite prevention {Accessed November 2020}

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