The very worst out there, in my opinion, is the tick. The very thought of having one of these parasites feeding on you is enough to make your skin crawl. It’s not so much that they are known vectors of Lyme disease and that they feed by plunging their beaklike mouthpart deep inside you and then secrete a cement-like saliva which literally glues them in place. It’s the fact that they prefer dark and moist places on your body to attach themselves to; places like armpits, bellybutton holes, and, you guessed it, your crotch. These are all places I’d rather not have something nibbling at.
Performing regular tick checks are crucial in heavily tick infested areas. It’s best to use the buddy system for this. Of course, this can get embarrassing at times. I’ll never forget when my wife and I, while traveling through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, began our nightly routine of stripping down and checking each other’s private parts for embedded ticks, when a group of Boy Scouts paddled by. I tried to explain to them what we were doing, which, according to my wife, made the scenario even worse.
If you do find a tick lodged into your skin, make sure not to panic and start yanking away at it. You’re just liable to pull the thing in half, leaving its head inside you and increase the chances of infection. The best way is to first spray it with a good amount of bug repellent. This will definitely force it to relax its grip, since the tick actually breaths out of its butt while its head is lodged into your skin. Don’t burn it with a cigarette or match like some older guide books recommend. This will just make the tick hold on tighter and become more difficult to get out. After allowing some time for the repellent to take effect, place a pair of tweezers (tick pliers can also be purchased at most outdoor stores), and, without squeezing the tick, reach inside, beneath the body, and gently pull it out. Then disinfect the area with antiseptic or soap and water.
Symptoms of Lyme disease:
- A circular red rash forming around the bitten area
- Flu-like symptoms
- Painful joints
- Local paralysis
- Skin sensations
- Hearing loss