Losing Our Head Over Ticks

I like to think that I handle myself pretty well when the ‘fit hits the shan’, so to speak.  In the past year of being a step-parent, I’ve acquired some accumulated experience in dealing with your usual assortment of boo-boo’s and ouchies.  In all cases, I think I’ve passed with flying colors and – believe me – I’ve dealt with some real lulu’s; scratches, cuts, bruises, braises, burns, you name it, bring it on!

In each case, despite the flood of tears I have maintained my composure, kept a level head, acted swiftly and it’s now with absolute certainly I can confidentially tell you that HRH  hasn’t acquired any new scars on my watch.  And given that just prior to my moving in with a 7-year-old I could barely keep the cactus on my kitchen window sill alive, that’s really saying something.

But, recently, we were confronted with a dire situation which, thank Christ, Kelly was around to deal with as I’m not sure how it would have turned out had she not been.

This was definitely beyond my scope to deal with alone.

It all started when little HRH  came in one evening from playing outside complaining that there was a bump on her head.  She said that she had first noticed it earlier that morning but, between recess, lunch, math class, and God knows whatever else she does all day at school, she had forgotten about it…until then.

Sounds innocent enough right?

No cause for alarm, right?

It hardly even registered on my ‘Oh Shit’ scale at all.

Kelly made a quick inspection of HRH’s head in the general area only discover that the “bump” was in fact a tick that had attached itself in her scalp.  Needless to say what kind of epic freak out ensued shortly afterwards and who could blame her?  A blood sucking insect was embedded in her head sucking out her life force.  Hell, Florence Nightingale herself would have freaked out. You don’t know the meaning of nasty until you’ve seen a tick sticking out of your child’s head…legs wiggling.

Lord knows that inside I was having a first class panic attack of Titanic proportions.  My first impulse was to physically wrench the offending insect from her scalp, throw it to the ground and proceed to stomp the holy bejesus out of it back into the depths of Hades from which it crawled.  Of course, it’s not that easy (especially given it’s current location) so I did my best to console her while Kelly consulted Dr. Google looking for what our next course of action needed to be.

In fact, you might be surprised at exactly how many hits you will find when you simply Google “my child has a tick on her head”.

As it turns out, simply yanking out a tick is not necessarily the best idea.  By doing so, you run the risk of having its head detach itself from its body and remain there embedded under the skin which could then create a whole other host of inflectional issues later on.  Other old world sources might recommend using petroleum jelly or a hot match.  Aside from the risk of having an open flame near your child’s head (seriously?), these methods could also cause the insect to burrow deeper so they’re also not great ideas.

Most will recommend this approach:


Of course, this makes it all look total easy-peasy but, I assure you, it’s not.  In fact, this was downright unhelpful.  Never mind that we’re not getting any younger and our eyes cannot accurately sight an object about the size of a pin head, but the little bugger didn’t exactly want to let go and no amount of sweet talk was going to convince him otherwise.  Likewise, I’m sure HRH  didn’t appreciate the feeling of an insect being forcefully extracted from her her scalp.

I get shivers just thinking about that myself.

Fortunately, we found this trick that proved to be very successful.

  1. Apply liquid soap to a cotton ball or Q-tip.
  2. Smother the tick in the saturated cotton swab.
  3. Let it stay on for 30 seconds.
  4. Remove the swab slowly and the tick will likely be stuck to it as you lift it away.  A pair of tweezers can also be utilized if it didn’t come off with the swab.
  5. Wash the bite area with soap and water and apply Polysporin to prevent the chance of further infection.

The fact that we found this on a pet website is irrelevant as it worked perfectly (of course, HRH  doesn’t necessarily have to know about that either).

The next step was to identify the type of tick so that we knew whether or not the risk of further infection was a possibility.  Unfortunately, in our haste we threw it away into the trash.


So being the conscientious step-parent I am, I volunteered to go through the garbage to find the little bugger, which, after about 30 minutes of routing through coffee grounds, Kleenex’s, rotted fruit, and other assorted nasty waste, I did.

Luckily, the tick has white markings on its back identifying it as a harmless dog tick and not the more dangerous, reddish deer tick, of which, is associated with Lyme disease.  And would you believe it, despite our initial attempt to crush him in a wad of toilet paper, the little bastard was still alive and well.

Apparently, we had extracted the Terminator Tick.

So what we know now is that when you successfully extract the tick, you should also toss the little blood-sucking bastard into a jar of rubbing alcohol in order to make sure it 100% meets its maker and doesn’t live on to bite again.

Here is a helpful site that will enable you to correctly identify ticks for yourself (click HERE).

God help you.

Leave a comment


  1. saskia

     /  May 28, 2013

    Having had a few ticks on various dogs, you should have called me! You don’t necessarily need rubbing alcohol, you can drown the tick in a bowl of water after. Fun, right!

  2. Did I ever tell you about the time, ticks hatched on my wall in Thailand? Yeah, talking about living a nightmare. There were EVERYWHERE.

  3. No Carolyn, you didn’t. Sounds like my worst nightmare come true, similar to Lance (Slabbidy Blodahead) and my experience at the Grassroots Festival one year. Anyway, I found this homemade pet/human tick repellent. May be worth mixing up a batch and keeping it laying around:

    For pets, add 1 cup of water to a spray bottle, followed by 2 cups of distilled white vinegar. Ticks hate the smell and taste of vinegar, and will be easily be repelled by this ingredient alone. Then, add two spoonfuls of vegetable or almond oil, which both contain sulfur (another natural tick repellent). To make a repellent that will also deter fleas, mix in a few spoonfuls of lemon juice, citrus oil, or peppermint oil, which will all repel ticks and fleas while also creating a scented repellent. Spray onto the pet’s dry coat, staying away from sensitive areas including eyes, nose, mouth, and genitals. When outdoors for an extended period, spray this solution on two to three times per day. When pets are outdoors generally to use the restroom only, spray the solution onto the animal’s coat once per day.

    A simple homemade repellent can be made with a few inexpensive household ingredients. In a spray bottle, mix 2 cups of distilled white vinegar and 1 cup of water. To make a scented solution so you do not smell like bitter vinegar all day, add 20 drops of your favorite essential oil or bath oil. Eucalyptus oil is a calm, soothing scent that also works as a tick repellent, while peppermint and citrus oils give off a strong crisp scent that also repel ticks. After mixing the solution, spray onto clothing, skin, and hair before going outdoors. Reapply every four hours to keep ticks at bay, and examine the skin and hair when returning home to make sure no ticks are on the body.


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