Scientists already predict Lyme disease to surge this year, but a viral tick “trick” could put people even more at risk.
The popular Facebook video advises dousing the parasites in peppermint oil, causing them to float up and away from the skin. “Death to ticks!!” the caption exclaims. Almost a half million viewers have since shared the post, recommending it to their friends and family.
The only problem? The “tip” directly contradicts experts’ advice and actually increases the likelihood of contracting tickborne illnesses, like Lyme and Powassan virus.
“Ticks carry all sorts of diseases,” entomologist Dr. Neeta Connally recently told KFGO. “Those are actually salivated into the body when the tick attaches, and so we don’t want to agitate the tick in any way that is going to make it salivate more and thereby be more likely to transmit anything.” That includes drowning them in peppermint oil, of course.
The Centers for Disease Control also discourages “folklore remedies” like nail polish, petroleum jelly and heat that lift the tick away from the skin. “Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible – not wait for it to detach,” the CDC says. Instead of wasting your essential oils, pull out a pair of fine-tipped tweezers. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible, and pull straight up with steady pressure. Then thoroughly clean the bite (and your hands) with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
To get rid of the pests, put them in a sealed bag or container, or just flush them down the toilet. Of course, if you develop a rash or fever soon afterwards, go to the doctor straight away.
Since the parasites transmit over 10 dangerous diseases to their human (and pet!) hosts, it’s important to get immediate care. Early recognition and treatment can decrease the risk of serious complications later on.