I was out caving yesterday and apparently picked up a passenger on the trail either on the way up or back down the mountain.

I discovered it in my hair on the back of my head while showering. It was a tick, but it wasn't stuck to my scalp and it appeared to be dead.

I put it on the counter while I pondered why it hadn't attached itself over night, then after a few minutes it started to move again, slowly at first, then it started to stagger around as if it were intoxicated (shortly after which I sent it on it's way down the porcelain express).

The only thing I can figure is that my shampoo somehow knocked it out and made it loose it's grip. Has shampoo been known to remove ticks?

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    Anecdotally, I have noticed ticks on me the next day after spending some time walking around in the woods. Sometimes they can be on you for a while without biting, while they look for a good place to do it. maybe that's what happened to you. Also, not sure how a tick staggers as if intoxicated, but I'd love to see that. – GKS1 Jun 23 '15 at 18:34
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    There are all kinds of folk tales about getting them to drop off by using vaseline, gasoline, etc. The reliable sources of information I've found all say that these methods don't work, and that all you have to do is pull them straight out using tweezers, if possible without smashing the body: aafp.org/afp/2002/0815/p643.html – Ben Crowell Jun 23 '15 at 22:54
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    Related: How should I remove a tick. – Roflo Jun 24 '15 at 17:38
  • @roflo I have a lot of experience with removing ticks, but this is the first time I've had one just fall off of me like it was dead. – ShemSeger Jun 24 '15 at 17:45
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    i guess it simply hadn't drilled for blood yet. they sometimes walk around on your body to find a good place first. – henning -- reinstate Monica Jul 9 '15 at 14:30

Yes, shampoo can help wash ticks out of your hair. That's why it's always recommended to shower soon after returning from an activity where you may have collected ticks. Ticks typically won't attach themselves for many hours after landing on your body. ( I've heard that they won't attach for 24 hours but not sure I believe it.)

I use a shampoo container eucalyptus and spearmint, both of which are natural repellents. Is it foolproof? No, but it helps. You must still perform a visual inspection and take all other precautions.

Once a tick attaches itself to begin feeding, only a physical removal will work. At this point, shampoos and soaps won't do a thing.

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  • I have a lot of experience with ticks, and I agree that they don't attach for many hours. – ab2 May 25 '18 at 21:22

I agree shampoo is not the way to go with removing ticks. The CDC has a short explanation of removing them: http://www.cdc.gov/ticks/removing_a_tick.html Do make sure to get checked out by a doctor if you start feeling sick, it could be something serious.

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  • A Tick Key can be picked up at an outdoor store and works faster and easier than tweezers. – Jonathan Landrum Jul 6 '17 at 13:23

I have never heard of shampoo being a tick deterrent or being more efficient at tick removal than say washing your hair simply with water.

If you are in an area where diseases transmitted by ticks are an issue then I'd suggest you use the common safety procedures:

  • vaccination
  • search your body before going to bed/while showering (it's best to have somebody help you for hard-to-observe places)
  • try to limit activities which will expose you to many ticks (e.g. crawling through think underbrush, etc.)

If you find a tick remove it quickly and safely, see our related question How should I remove a tick?. I wouldn't bother fussing around with shampoo.

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  • What diseases that are transmitted by ticks can you get vaccinated for? The biggest one that I know of is Lyme disease and I don't think it has a vaccine. – Erik Jul 18 '17 at 15:30
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    There’s a canine vaccine for Lyme and some humans have taken it without ill effect but your mileage may vary and it may cause you to start howling at full moons. – RoboKaren May 25 '18 at 20:56
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    @Erik: there's (human) vaccine available against tick-borne encephalitis. – cbeleites unhappy with SX May 28 '18 at 18:13

It is exactly the opposite: fat or oil can help to remove ticks; the fat layer blocks air oxygen for them, they start to suffocate and try to detach. So the ticks may feel better after you wash them!

However, while I have seen this method working, the trick of removing with fat is no longer recommended as it adds chances to transfer the disease from these ticks.

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    I don't think this is a good method. A tick key is much safer and more effective. The CDC specifically mentions not using folk remedies such as smothering it in soap or Vasoline: cdc.gov/ticks/removing_a_tick.html – Jonathan Landrum Jul 6 '17 at 13:22

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