Health & Family

Use tweezers to pull a tick out of the skin

Q. My brother-in-law sent me an e-mail about how to remove ticks. It was attributed to a school nurse, who suggested applying a glob of liquid soap to a cotton ball and covering the tick with the cotton ball for 20 seconds. Presumably, when you remove the cotton ball, the tick will come out on its own and be stuck to the cotton ball.

According to, this e-mail has been circulating on the Internet for more than two years. It sounds credible, but it is not true. Putting liquid soap, petroleum jelly, Vicks VapoRub, fingernail polish or any other goo on a tick will not make it let go faster. Aggravating a tick might cause it to regurgitate saliva into the bite, increasing the risk of infection.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend grasping the tick with tweezers as close to the skin as possible. Use a gentle, steady motion to pull the tick straight away from the skin.

Prompt removal reduces the risk of infection. Symptoms such as rash, fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint aches could signal either Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Both require prompt medical attention.

No need to worry

about red licorice

Q. I have read your articles on licorice raising blood pressure, but you don't state if it is black licorice or both red and black licorice.

I have never suffered from high blood pressure, and I enjoy red licorice once in a while. I don't notice any side effects. Is it safe?

Red licorice is totally safe. It doesn't contain the ingredient (glycyrrhizin) found in black licorice, the ingredient that might raise blood pressure.