I've never had any experience removing an embedded tick. I know what you're thinking......"Then why do you have Lyme disease?" Well, perhaps it was a nymph (a baby tick the size of a poppy seed) which fed and fell off without being noticed. OR....what I think is more likely....I may have been infected from mosquito or black fly bites when I was vacationing up in the Muskoka area of Ontario a few years ago. Many Lyme-literate doctors believe that these insects can also transmit the borrelia burgdorferi bacteria.
I was recently in a tool store and saw a display for a "Tick Key". It's a little tool to attach to your key ring that apparently helps you remove an embedded tick. I messaged Dr. Murakami on Facebook and asked him about the key, and he does not recommend it. It can leave the head of the tick embedded in you, with the opportunity to transmit the bacteria.
The blister technique is only to be done at a doctor's office or in the ER. But the straw and knot method is easy enough for anyone. If you're going camping or hiking, be sure to take along a straw and some thread, and review the technique beforehand. Remember that the straw is used to simply guide the knot downwards over top of the tick's body, so it gets as close to the embedded head as possible.
And remember: DO NOT use petroleum jelly, a hot match, nail polish, or other products on the tick. These may cause the tick to become distressed and regurgitate its stomach contents, including the Lyme bacteria, into you.
Please be careful this spring and summer, and click here to learn how to prevent tick bites in the first place.