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Dealing with ticks in inaccessible places (on the body not the Camino)

SEB2

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF (2015), CP (2016), part of Vasco (2019)
Living in the Scottish countryside we are beset with ticks. It's usually the tiny ones that sneak up on you. Being so small they are especially difficult to remove with the plastic tool bought from vets and chemists. I have discovered that dousing the little blighters in tea tree oil makes them give up their grip and fall off in entirety - I would probably give up in entirety if doused in the liquid too. This has worked for me on the last two occasions when I have found one on my person. This suggests that rubbing legs with the oil might act as a deterrent but I am mindful that fellow pilgrims in albergues can suffer ill effects from the smell so use with consideration of others.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
What a great idea! I never thought of that, but usually pick them up where I can get to them.
This suggests that rubbing legs with the oil might act as a deterrent but I am mindful that fellow pilgrims in albergues can suffer ill effects from the smell so use with consideration of others.
Another caution is that straight tea tree oil can cause reactions in some people. So maybe try it first before you slather it on, to see if you are sensitive.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
Not entirely new idea. Since my childhood we were suffocating ticks with a drop of oil, any kind of oil, usually simple sunflower oil for cooking. But some patience is needed.

Nowadays plastic gadgets (tweezers) with a spring are used more and more though.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
Ticks in inaccessible places are always a bit of a challenge. A close, if not intimate, relationship with a walking companion can be useful. Though I am minded of the "joke":
"Two peregrinos are camping a couple miles outside of town on the trail. While taking a **** behind a bush, one peregrino gets bitten on the penis by a Seoane’s Viper. He alerts his friend, who immediately dials 112. He speaks to the operator who connects him with a specialist Doctor. The doctor explains to him that the only way to save his friend is to suck the poison out. The bitten peregrino cries out "What did the doctor say?"
To which his friend replies "He said you're gonna die!"

I'd be reluctant to use Tea Tree in essential oil form, my aged skin can't take it, but most standard repellants and a little caution ( and a close friend ;)) have kept me free of the little buggers for a while.
 

m108

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2011-2016
Since I had borreliosis I am more afraid of ticks than Covid-19, lions, snakes ...... Unfortunately, they like me very much. I have been vaccinated against tick-borne meningitis, and I do not intend to give up walking in nature. Since I sometimes did quite a bit of damage in “weird” places, in a panic to get rid of the tick, my doctor told me about an interesting way to easily remove it. Vaseline - you put a small ball of Vaseline on the tick and rotate it three times. Vaseline picks it up because it sticks to it. Supposedly this is better than oil because the tick starts to suffocate due to the oil and releases fluid into the bite which can be infected. So far it has worked. Lip balm can also be used instead of Vaseline (again my smart young doctor :))
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Currently on a "Virtual" Camino and striding out across Castile y Leon!
An acquaintance walks her dogs down in the local salt marshes and carries a tick tool made from a thin, disposable plastic spoon along with a small pot of vaseline and some cotton buds in a ziploc bag.

The spoon has a V notch cut into the tip of the bowl. Apparently what she does is to dab the tick with vaseline and then "sneak up behind it" with the spoon sliding the notch in from behind. She then gently lifts the spoon while squeezing the notch closed - the tick should roll back into the bowl.

She gave a group of us a live action demo on one of her dogs while on a walk which prompted someone to ask why, if the marshes had so many ticks that she needed to carry a tool, did she not walk elsewhere.

That, she pronounced, would be giving in to the enemy!
 

Dromengro

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP - Leon 1984
Frances (2021)
Despite many years of hill walking, camping, grouse beating, deer stalking, and even helping with tick surveys in the Scottish Highlands, my first encounter with being bitten by ticks was in Spain on the Frances.

I'd pitched my tent in the woods and settled down to sleep. I awoke to the sound of cattle which I had seen earlier with a large bull. I was used to cattle so wasn't too worried as long as they didn't trip over the guylines. Suddenly there was a loud bellowing, and the tent began to shake wildly. I began to slowly undo the zip. Then another louder bellow and a large thud and the back of tent collapsed. I shot out into the darkness, and ran as fast as I could into the pitch darkness. It was then that I realised I was barefooted and naked, as I was beaten and whipped by branches, stabbed by sharp gorse bushes and prickly grass as I fought my way through the woods in the complete blackness. It was so dark that I had no idea, where my tent was and couldn't hear the cattle. The only thing I could do was wait it out until first light where I found the bull and his harem lying on my tent. The next three days were spent contorting my body and removing about 80 of them with the aid of a mirror and my Swiss army knife tweezers from some very delicate and unmentionable parts.

On a serious note, ticks are an increasing problem in Scotland where apparently 1 in 20 have the bacteria that can cause Lyme disease.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I have heard lots of disagreement about using vaseline and oil as a way to remove ticks. But I have never heard any disagreement about the Tick Key — a small inexpensive device recommended to me by @Rick of Rick and Peg. It works beautifully. Having a partner to check over the places you can’t see is a good idea if there are lots of ticks around.

I was walking alone on the Olvidado a few years ago and got a tick in my back, which I could see but couldn’t remove. The woman who checked me into the Hotel Moderno in Cistierna very kindly took it out, but also recommended I see a doctor (which I did in La Robla). Last year when I was back in Cistierna, checking into the same hotel, she told me — I remember you, you’re the woman I took a tick from!
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
Occasionally my dogs pick up ticks when I take them to my dad's farm. They are big black shiny cattle ticks, completely gross me out. They seem to get them in their 'armpits' and tummies where I guess the grass touches them.
The first time it happened I didn't notice the tick when it was small, she rolled over and a giant black ball was visible on her tummy. I was always told to get them off with white spirits. Not having any I dipped a cotton bud into nail polish remover, and touched the tick. Fell off instantly (I then put a match to it, and it made a satisfying sizzle). So a tiny amount of acetone works like a charm, but now I get them the tablets from the vet regularly.
I've never had a tick on myself, we don't have dangerous ones here, I would just use acetone.
 

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
Occasionally my dogs pick up ticks when I take them to my dad's farm. They are big black shiny cattle ticks, completely gross me out. They seem to get them in their 'armpits' and tummies where I guess the grass touches them.
The first time it happened I didn't notice the tick when it was small, she rolled over and a giant black ball was visible on her tummy. I was always told to get them off with white spirits. Not having any I dipped a cotton bud into nail polish remover, and touched the tick. Fell off instantly (I then put a match to it, and it made a satisfying sizzle). So a tiny amount of acetone works like a charm, but now I get them the tablets from the vet regularly.
I've never had a tick on myself, we don't have dangerous ones here, I would just use acetone.
could you put a bit of scale to ’big’ and ‘giant’?

My dog (Henry, clearly), picks up a couple of ticks every week - the red/brown sheep and deer ticks in the UK. A thorough search picks them up and I remove them with one of the common hook-shaped devices.

A female friend attracted a tick whilst urinating amongst bracken. Fortunately, when we had all stopped laughing our socks off (I know, but don’t judge me - you had to be there) we equipped her husband with a head-torch, a rough diagram of the area in question and a proprietary tick remover and all ended well.

I’m not sure I’d have the patience to apply Vaseline if I found a tick on myself. Aware of Lyme disease I do carry a (prescribed) three day course of doxycycline which I would use if I were concerned.
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
could you put a bit of scale to ’big’ and ‘giant’?

My dog (Henry, clearly), picks up a couple of ticks every week - the red/brown sheep and deer ticks in the UK. A thorough search picks them up and I remove them with one of the common hook-shaped devices.

A female friend attracted a tick whilst urinating amongst bracken. Fortunately, when we had all stopped laughing our socks off (I know, but don’t judge me - you had to be there) we equipped her husband with a head-torch, a rough diagram of the area in question and a proprietary tick remover and all ended well.

I’m not sure I’d have the patience to apply Vaseline if I found a tick on myself. Aware of Lyme disease I do carry a (prescribed) three day course of doxycycline which I would use if I were concerned.
The only ones I've ever seen are the cattle ticks, I've never seen ticks anywhere other than NZ. We dont seem to have many, none of my friends have never seen one. Most are walkers and hikers.
They start off small but as they fill up with blood they get to about 7-8mm.
I just googled them and it appears that we have nine species here, but the cattle tick is the most common, and is the only species to have been introduced, all the others are native.
I have never seen more than one at a time on a dog, or a cow. Only my smaller dog seems to get them (standard sized shepherd) , the other one is very long legged, maybe he doesn't into contact with them. She has had maybe 3 in her life, (she's 7) always from the farm, or from walking along the horse trails.
They fall off instantly with nail polish remover (acetone) but I expect men wouldn't have that easily to hand.
I'm glad we dont have many as I am quite disgusted by them.
 

hecate105

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
'09 Portuguese Estellas '14 Aurelia '16 St Davids '17 Via Augusta/V dl P. '18/'19 Michael Mary Way
I always use vaseline when the tick is on a cat - they won't usually allow the use of a tick tool...! then the tick suffocates and falls off. The important thing is that the head comes out - no use getting the body as it is the head that will infect you... Tweezers and a quarter anti-clockwise turn will do the trick. But they do twist as they burrow so need to be twisted back out or the head stays put... If i had one somewhere i couldn't reach with tweezers (urrgghhh!) i would use vaseline... Long trousers and shirt for me whilst walking...!!
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
About Vaseline.

According to the US National Institute of Health, it is not a good way to remove ticks. From their website

DO NOT
  • DO NOT try to burn the tick with a match or other hot object.
  • DO NOT twist the tick when pulling it out.
  • DO NOT try to kill, smother, or lubricate the tick with oil, alcohol, Vaseline, or similar material while the tick is still embedded in the skin.
 

Moorwalker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
The Saint's Way, Cornwall
Living in the Scottish countryside we are beset with ticks. It's usually the tiny ones that sneak up on you. Being so small they are especially difficult to remove with the plastic tool bought from vets and chemists. I have discovered that dousing the little blighters in tea tree oil makes them give up their grip and fall off in entirety - I would probably give up in entirety if doused in the liquid too. This has worked for me on the last two occasions when I have found one on my person. This suggests that rubbing legs with the oil might act as a deterrent but I am mindful that fellow pilgrims in albergues can suffer ill effects from the smell so use with consideration of others.
The problem with all of the methods that cause the ticks to "let go" aldso make them disgorge their stomach contents first, straight into your skin, and so greatly increasing the risk that you will be infected with anything they are carrying.

Allergy is another risk, all essential oils are potentially a problem with that. Essential oils are not benign, they are mixtures of some very potent chemicals.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
About Vaseline.

According to the US National Institute of Health, it is not a good way to remove ticks. From their website

DO NOT
  • DO NOT try to burn the tick with a match or other hot object.
  • DO NOT twist the tick when pulling it out.
  • DO NOT try to kill, smother, or lubricate the tick with oil, alcohol, Vaseline, or similar material while the tick is still embedded in the skin.
When I read this I can only think that the way to go is
- DO NOT remove the tick
:D
 

SEB2

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF (2015), CP (2016), part of Vasco (2019)
About Vaseline.

According to the US National Institute of Health, it is not a good way to remove ticks. From their website

DO NOT
  • DO NOT try to burn the tick with a match or other hot object.
  • DO NOT twist the tick when pulling it out.
  • DO NOT try to kill, smother, or lubricate the tick with oil, alcohol, Vaseline, or similar material while the tick is still embedded in the skin.
The second injunction seems very strange as the method of removal by the plastic tool is to twist and go. just pulling it out is to risk leaving the embedded head of the creature behind in your flesh.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I was always told not to twist. The CDC (another US institution, Center for Disease Control) says that as well. The tick key that I use just pulls straight up. Do you have a picture of the plastic tool that you have to twist?

The CDC also rejects the vasoline method of removal, calling it a “folklore remedy,” but I do know people who have used vasoline.
 

MichelleElynHogan

Veteran Member
Living in the Scottish countryside we are beset with ticks. It's usually the tiny ones that sneak up on you. Being so small they are especially difficult to remove with the plastic tool bought from vets and chemists. I have discovered that dousing the little blighters in tea tree oil makes them give up their grip and fall off in entirety - I would probably give up in entirety if doused in the liquid too. This has worked for me on the last two occasions when I have found one on my person. This suggests that rubbing legs with the oil might act as a deterrent but I am mindful that fellow pilgrims in albergues can suffer ill effects from the smell so use with consideration of others.
I have not tried it yet but have been told that using liquid dish soap instead of Tea Tree Oil works as well, and not as expensive either. If you do try this before I do, please post results. I hope it works.
 

peterjday

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015
So many 'old tales' about removing ticks that are totally inappropriate. Any aggravation of the tick will cause it to inject it's toxins. That is why you don't use vaseline, oils, soaps etc. Similarly, tweezers or tick removers also create a problem by squeezing the toxic contents of the tick into the skin. We have lots of ticks where I live in Australia. 2 methods and ONLY 2 methods are recommend by medical authorities. Freezing using a wart freeze applicator from pharmacy will subdue the tick and then it can be removed. Alternatively a scabies cream such as 'Lyclear' cream will put the tick to sleep and kill it in about 15minutes. It can then be scrapped out. Don't listen to all these anecdotal accounts!
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
Yes, we have the same advice as @peterjday. We get regular infestations of ticks brought in by possums and bandicoots. The adult ticks can be removed with the wart freeze or engine starter in a pressure pack spray - anything that instantly freezes them. It is the tiny nymph stage that are hard. So small they are just a black spec, and sometimes many of them. For those we use the permethrin cream mentioned, sold by the pharmacists as scabies cream.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
I was infested by a tick and did not at the time know that it was present, as it had burrowed into the skin at the back of my neck above the hair line. I discovered it after returning from a camping trip and combing out my hair. The tick, which was thoroughly engorged by then, simply fell out when I was pulling the comb through my hair. As I knew that ticks can carry Lyme disease in my area, I immediately went to a clinic to check on the danger posed by this tick (I took the tick with me). The doctor took the pill bottle where I had placed the tick and returned with this information: this was a dog tick, not a black-legged tick, and would not carry Lyme Disease. But one dog tick in 100 would carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. If I got a fever, I should return to the clinic to get an antibiotic. That was the end of this incident, except for some swelling and itching where the tick had been attached, which lasted for some time.
 

Moorwalker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
The Saint's Way, Cornwall
I was always told not to twist. The CDC (another US institution, Center for Disease Control) says that as well. The tick key that I use just pulls straight up. Do you have a picture of the plastic tool that you have to twist?

The CDC also rejects the vasoline method of removal, calling it a “folklore remedy,” but I do know people who have used vasoline.
Many people use vaseline, oil, essential oils and a variety of other things to persuade ticks to let go. The trouble is that makes them disgorge their stomach contents into your skin and increases the risk of you getting some kind of infection. using heat has the same effect.

Twisting it has the risk of pulling its head off and then you are left with the rather unpleasant job of digging the head out of your skin and again, there is a risk of infection. PUll straight up, using either fine nosed tweezers or a tick removing tool. I'm aware of the "tick twister" tools but they are now not recommended by most authorities. The ones I like are little plastic gadgets that look a bit like the nail-removing part of a hammer, you just slide the tool under the tick and lever it up.
 

Moorwalker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
The Saint's Way, Cornwall
I have not tried it yet but have been told that using liquid dish soap instead of Tea Tree Oil works as well, and not as expensive either. If you do try this before I do, please post results. I hope it works.
Please don't. Don't use any chemical method to make the tick let go. All of them cause the tick to vomit its stomach contents into your skin.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015, 2017, 2019) and plans for 2021 (Sept, Oct)
Speaking of ticks, here's something I picked up on an International Travel Advisory. Bob
Spain: Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever​
Level: Advisory​
Location: Spain
Category: Crimean-Congo Fever CCHF​
Last Updated: 17 Aug 2020 08:29 GMT​
One fatal case of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) has been confirmed in Castile and Leon. CCHF is a potentially fatal viral illness transmitted by tick bites or through direct unprotected contact with infected body fluids. Symptoms include flu-like illness, abdominal pain and bleeding often occurs. There is no vaccine. Prevention is through avoiding tick bites, and avoiding contact with body fluids. The risk to business travellers is low. People at risk are those who are exposed to ticks (such as agricultural workers, hikers, campers), and healthcare workers and family caring for sick relatives.​
ADVICE​
Observe routine hygiene:
  • Avoid contact with body fluids
  • Wash hands
When in areas where ticks are present (for example wooded areas, fields, tall grass), do the following:
  • Wear protective clothing such as long pants and sleeves. Tuck pant legs into socks.
  • Use an effective insect repellent, such as one containing DEET.
  • Consider soaking or spraying your clothes with the insecticide permethrin. (Do not apply permethrin directly to the skin.)
  • After coming indoors, search for ticks on your body and clothing. Promptly and safely remove any ticks.
MORE DETAIL​
A 69-year-old man died 11 August. He had been hospitalised in Salamanca the day before his death. This is the fifth confirmed case in Spain. Three cases were confirmed in Castile and Leon (two in 2016 and one in 2020) and one case was reported in 2018 in Avila province. Although the risk of CCHF in Spain is low, additional cases may occur.
What is Crimean Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF)?
CCHF is a viral disease that affects animals and humans. It is transmitted to humans by an infected tick bite or upon direct contact with infected animals, patients or infected tissues. Symptoms occur within two to twelve days of exposure and include fever, chills, head ache, body ache and haemorrhage (bleeding). Continuous bleeding leads to shock and death. Around half of all infected people die. If the patient survives, recovery is long and slow.
Risk to business travellers is low. High risk groups include agricultural workers, healthcare workers, military personnel and people who camp in rural areas. There is no vaccine against CCHF. Prevention is through preventing tick bites, avoiding direct contact with animals and their tissues, and ensuring strict infection control practices when in contact with sick people.
For more information:
  • About CCHF: see "Crimean-Congo Fever (CCHF)" in the "Diseases and Prevention" dropdown on the International SOS Location Guides.
  • See the Travel Advice Articles "Preventing Mosquito, Tick and Other Insect Bites" and "Using Insect Repellents Safely" on the International SOS Location Guides.
  • About Spain: see the International SOS Location Guides.
  • About safe tick removal: see the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information.
  • Contact any International SOS assistance centre.
 

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