A Facebook video showing a woman removing a tick from her body using only a drop of peppermint oil has amassed over 26 million views.
According to the video, applying a drop of peppermint oil on top of a tick will make the pest come out in one piece and on its own.
However, it was later brought to the attention of Independent Journal Review that “drowning” a tick in peppermint oil may cause more harm than good.
According to the American Lyme Disease Foundation (ALDF):
Ticks are responsible for at least ten different known diseases in humans in the U.S., including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, babesiosis, and more recently, anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis.
Tick expert Dr. Neeta Connally said in a podcast that many of those diseases can actually be spread from aggravating the tick (i.e. “drowning” it in substances like peppermint oil).
Dr. Connally explained that from a “public health standpoint,” putting peppermint oil on ticks is not recommended. She also pointed out that rather than “regurgitating” or “throwing up,” the tick actually carries most diseases in its salvia that it can release when irritated:
“We don't want to agitate the tick at all because as you know, many pieces of ticks carry all sorts of diseases. [...] Those are actually salivated into the body when the tick attaches, and so we don't want to agitate the tick in any way that is going to make it salivate more and thereby be more likely to transmit anything into you that may make you sick.”
The Center for Wilderness Safety backs up this theory, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends avoiding any “folk remedies” like “'painting' the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin.”
While the ALDF has not specifically tested peppermint oil, its executive director, Phillip Baker, also confirmed with IJR that peppermint oil is not recommended for tick removal.
The Center for Wilderness Safety suggests that “the two most effective methods” for removing the tick involve using a “Tick Twister Pro” or by using needle-nose tweezers.
This illustration provided by the CDC shows exactly how a person should remove a tick from a person or animal:
According to the CDC, after the tick has been removed, a person can get rid of the pest by:
- Submerging it in alcohol.
- Placing it in a sealed bag/container.
- Wrapping it tightly in tape.
- Flushing it down the toilet.
It takes anywhere from 24 to 48 hours for a tick to transmit a disease. If a person who came in contact with a tick starts experiencing Lyme Disease symptoms such as a rash, bruising, joint pains, chills, fever, or fatigue, it's important that they seek medical attention as soon as possible.