Dan Wolff, President and Founder of TickEase, knows ticks. As an avid outdoorsman, he has been bitten over 200 times! Rather than sit back and take the abuse, he came up with a solution: TickEase: fine tip tweezers made specifically for tick removal. In comparison, he takes a look at household tweezers, and a number of tick removal “gadgets,” and shows us why these may not be the best choice, and may even be dangerous.
Transcript of the Video Interview
Mark McLaren at Insect Shield: You need a tool to remove [ticks]. And I think the first go-to for people is tweezers - because that's what they have handy. But those don't do a great job, right?
Dan Wolff: And I happen to, I just happen to have a few of these.
MM: I was kind of wondering if you might have something there.
DW: I happen to have a few of these over here. But first of all, I just want to say that every single reputable expert organization that I have done research on, has concluded that fine tip, or sharp pointy tweezers are your best bet when it comes to removing ticks.
DW: No reason to complicate the removal process. It is a simple idea, but you have to do it correctly. A lot of people don't realize that they can actually make themselves sick or exposed to these pathogens by incorrect tick removal. And the some of the things that constitute incorrect tick removal would be overly agitating the tick, crushing are putting pressure on the ticks, abdomen, tearing the tick and exposing the bite site, your fingers or any other mucosal membrane to what I refer to as yucky tick juice, right, which is anything liquid that comes out of this tick from any part of its body. The saliva is the biggest offender, but the pathogens reside in the mid gut or the belly of this tick. And once it started to feed, it becomes like a water balloon. Basically, it's a water balloon with a hollow straw sticking out of it. And you don't want to tear it or do anything like that.
DW: Now, years ago, when some of these, what I like to call tick removal gadgets were created. Their goal was to help people with their pets, and especially their dogs, right. Because dog ticks get on dogs, they're large, they get engorged, you typically don't find them until they're, you know, like the size of a blueberry or they're, you know, they're big and, and dog ticks really don't pose too much of a threat, at least around here, they have the potential to carry Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, but it's extremely rare in our area doesn't mean that you shouldn't still be alert and aware in other areas of the country where it's more prevalent. But they really didn't focus too much on worrying about exposure to illness, they were focused primarily on removal of a tick period. Right.
So these devices, this is something called the tick key. And the tick key was chosen so that you should you put this over the tick and pull it which then would essentially come over the tick. And you're pulling it sideways now out of the skin turn want to break off this right now part, which is the middle piece here, that's the height, which is like that hollow straw. So you want to avoid that. Also, I wanted to show you some nymphal ticks, but I don't think we can effectively do that here with this with our setup here today.
But I will attempt to show you those nymphal stage deer ticks. Can you see them? Okay,
MM: On the right side? Yes, little dots.
DW: Those little dots there. And this is a push pen. Yeah, no, you can see the difference.
DW: Right. Now, I've had these tick feed in my belly button. Okay. And I would I would challenge anybody, anywhere to use this device. So yeah, get into your belly button.
MM: It's like a backhoe. Trying to take out a weed with a backhoe.
DW: You can’t effectively get it into the slot. So yeah, you know, over the top, and now you're crushing it, which could cause that, that mid gut to rupture or tear it. So you don't want to do that. And likewise with this device. This has been around forever. I mean, the packaging looks like it's from the 1950s.
MM: Or is it the 60s?
DW: It is a scoop device which is, right basically is the same type of method. Now there's nothing wrong with this method. If you have it under the right circumstances, but under the wrong circumstances, you're asking for trouble again by agitating or tearing that tick. And one other observation is, this is not a tweezer, which everybody's recommending. So and there's another one. I don't have one with me, but it's a tick Twister, which is another scoop device that you use and you twist. But, you know, these, these mouthparts. Here. They're barbed. They're not threaded. So in my opinion, as well as the opinion of Dr. Tom Mather at University of Rhode Island, it's never necessary to twist the tick. Right? Why not just slide it under and scoop it and lift it? Right now? That's fine. If you're, like I said, under the right circumstances, right.
MM: So let's talk about your solution.
DW: So what I did was I basically, this is the TickEase device.
And I found that it is the most effective tool, because it not only offers you these really sharp, pointy tweezers. These are going to be a little hard to see that Sorry about that.
MM: Well, we can if you rotate it sideways.
DW: And we can see how fine those tips are. Yeah, so these are very sharp.
DW: So you can easily get into a belly button, you can get into the corner of your eye, you can get into your ear, or any of those tight crevices, places. Now, I also put a 45 degree angle on that, so that you can get it right down to the skin in a easily accessible fashion, right, rather than it being straight. And then that limits your accessibility. But the nice thing about this is that that scoop method that I mentioned earlier, which would be fine in certain circumstances, is also included on the back. But the difference here between the TickEase. And the tick spoon, for example, is simply the footprint that it has, right against you, ticks don't like to just go on a flat area of your body, that's the most easy to get to, they like to go into tight, moist crevices, spots. So the more you can do to for ease of use by making it a smaller head, so to speak, right, the better. So this device is also have stainless steel, doctors and veterinarians like it because they throw it in their autoclave and heat sterilize it, and they reuse it. And you can't you obviously can't do that with this [plastic spoon device]. No.
DW: They could I mean, at home, people can boil it, for example. And then it's not even necessary, what I would do is just use some hand soap. But you can use hand sanitizer or alcohol, even with a cotton ball. If you want to boil it, it's fine. It's not going to hurt it. But it probably isn't even that necessary. You can use it with soapy water, I recommend alcohol, and it should be should be just fine.
DW: You know, that's the best way to do it. And again, simple is better. Why complicate things. And then you have this whole population of people that swear by dish soap or using peppermint oil or Vaseline to smother the tick. There's even a product out there, that's a round sticky disc. And there's some guys saying put it over the tick, wait 30 minutes and then rip it off and it'll all come off. But that that may work will pick may come off or using dish soap may irritate that tick so much that it backs out.
DW: Yeah, the problem is a barbed appendage that stuck in your skin. And again, they secrete a glue like substance that fills the spaces in between the barbs, like it's called cementum. So it's like cement. Ticks until they're ready to come out naturally. Yeah, and have an enzyme that breaks down this glue and causes necrosis on the skin where it's biting, right dissolves all that and allows it to pop off when it's fully fed. Yeah, they're not ready to do that yet. So they can't just pop out like a mosquito flies in and they say, oh, there's DEET here. Oh, I'm out of here.
MM: Well, isn't that the old, I don't know if you call it a wives tale, but people a the match to the tick ... to try to get it to come out?
DW: Agitation, as well as it's killing the tick. And if you're dying, I don't know. But I've heard that when people are dying they could vomit they could lose control of their bowels. And this is, in a tick, all that yucky tick juice. This is kind of combining one of your old your other questions about DEET, or I'm sorry about repellents, and so on and so forth. DEET works great for flies and mosquitoes and gnats and all that stuff. I'm not sold on it for ticks. Because if you think about this tick that's doing this. Oh, there's DEET here. I'm gonna go over here.
DW: No DEET here, right? I bite you, right, where you probably haven't put the DEET and certain places that well, I don’t know anybody that's gonna spray a DEET product all over their private areas. I've never done that, and I never probably will. So that's an area that ticks like to gravitate to. Right. So the DEET and especially the natural products, I have not seen one that's really truly effective for ticks. The best thing for ticks would be the permethrin apparel, the Insect Shield products, which I love, and I tell people, you know, send in your hunting stuff, send in your own clothing, you can do that as well.
MM: A lot of people are not aware that we offer that service where people can send in their clothes. So you know, we sell a variety of clothing for the whole family, but hunters and stuff, they've got their specialized clothing that they want to use. And I know there's a lot out there, they got their lucky deer T-shirt that they want to wear absolutely.
MM: Which we will treat. And you would be surprised how much in the way of like used clothing or worn clothing we get for that reason, like people are like, well, people want to wear what they want to wear. And they don't necessarily you know, have the same tastes as the insect shield product at all times. Right?
DW: That's a good option that you can work with your own clothing. Right, so, I'm jumping around quite a bit and I apologize but for me, I kind of go in clean to the woods. You know, we are a group of recreationalists that don't want any kind of scent or odor on us. I know that one is odorless that's one thing but um you know, we're not going to spray cedar oil based products on our shelf or anything that might alert you know, the deer in the area that were out there. But I think the best thing for people you know, is the permethrin clothing.
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Insect Shield Repellent Clothing and Gear are revolutionary products designed to provide long-lasting, effective and convenient personal insect protection. The durable protection provided by Insect Shield is the result of years of research and testing. In July 2003, Insect Shield Repellent Apparel was registered by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Insect Shield Technology is utilized by 75+ leading lifestyle brands, work wear distributors and International relief organizations across the globe to provide effective protection against insects and the diseases they can carry. Insect Shield is an approved vendor of the US Army and approved for distribution in 46 countries.