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Spring is here, in northern Virginia, and the ticks are enjoying being out and about, as I discovered after two days of spring clean-up. I removed five of them easily, but two were out of reach, and boring in, and itching like mad. (I should have, but did not, take precautions; no lectures, please.)

Shortly before going to bed, I sprayed them with alcohol spray left over from the early days of the pandemic, and it immediately stopped the itching and the ticks were dead by next morning. (I don't know exactly when they died of course.)

Is this a well-known way to kill ticks, and is there any downside to this method? Clearly one doesn't want to spray one's entire body, or do this on a daily basis, but for the odd tick one cannot reach, and if there is no one at hand to help, it seems like a sensible procedure. (My doc says that if a tick has been embedded less than 36 hours, doxycycline is not necessary, but I took 200 mg to be on the safe side.)

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Here, in the Netherlands they (used to) warn against killing ticks which are attached to your body without detaching them first.

They did not mention alcohol as a method but did mention cream which would make it impossible for the tick to breath as the ticks were likely to 'spew' the nasties into your body in their attempt to detach themselves. And that is within the first 24 hours.

So I feel that using alcohol might be safe but I would not use it if there is any other method.

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As I know using liquids(oil, alcohol) against tick is discouraged, because the tick would probably spew more infected saliva into us. The best thing is prevention or if you get it find a way to remove it. Perhaps you can use front camera of your smartphone or tiny mirror so you can easily see them on your back and remove them.

My last 3 day hike was 90 km. Most of it was fine, but last 5-10 km was horrible(ticks). There was a lot of rain and under 800 m there is a lot of high grass and some hiking routes are very narrow. I couldn't avoid the grass. Each 15-20 min I was removing ticks from my pants. I think I had removed 20 ticks from my pants in 2 hours. You don't need to believe me, even I don't know how that is possible, so many of them. I removed 1 from my stomach and hope that is the last and only attached one.

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  • If you cannot reach the tick, then how are you going to pull it off? And given the choice, would you rather worry about the tick regurgitating by killing it, or would you rather take tha gamble of leaving it on your back longer and increasing the odds of getting lyme disease.
    – Russ Potak
    May 3, 2022 at 17:29
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    First, my doc was not upset when I told him I had killed the tick on my back because I could not reach it. I took 200 mg of Doxycycline anyway -- this is the amount to take if the tick has been attached for 36 hours or so. Second, I well believe you about 20 ticks. I had a similar experience with many ticks. Fortunately, they had been on me for less than 24 hours, and were all easily removed, with help from my husband.
    – ab2
    May 3, 2022 at 22:44
  • Depends how flexible you are. I think you can reach all spots if you are flexible. The main problem is to see the tick. That could be solved with mirror. I tried it at home, it is not easy but you can your back with a mirror.
    – Alex J.
    May 5, 2022 at 21:44
  • I already had a lyme disease like many others, when I was less than 20 years old. I didn't even know that, but I got tested. I had antibodies so doc said I had it in past and now it doesn't even matter to take any antibiotics. It is what it is. I studied forestry and more than half forestry workers had it and live normally, don't care so much about it. But you need to get vaccinated against meningitis, that is another thing! I still suggest to be careful, try to prevent it, but not to panic because 1 tick.
    – Alex J.
    May 5, 2022 at 21:56
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May have been something else in the spray. When driving home from Arkansas we found the dog had dozens of ticks(we had pulled them off the kids doing a "tick check" every few hours), but forgot the dog. So the three kids pulled them off the dog( kept them busy). We happened to have a half bottle of isopropyl alcohol (do not recall strength). Put 25 ticks in the bottle ,they stopped moving. Hours later the kids took ticks out and put them on a picnic table at rest area. After several minutes , the ticks started moving. So my experience is that submerging in isopropyl of unknown strength, does not kill them.

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  • Fascinating that your ticks survived immersion for hours in isopropyl alcohol. My two ticks looked dead and dehydrated, but I did not observe them for more than a minute or so, and put them down the toilet.
    – ab2
    Apr 21, 2022 at 0:58
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60% isopropyl achohol kills wasps, hornets, spiders and just about anything dead, and deader than dead. So I find it hard to believe that it would not kill a tick either as a tick is of the same class or phylum as arachnids or spider family.

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