Dear Scott: They found a tick on my sonís head at the hair cutting place he goes to. I asked them to take it off, and they wouldnít. I am very upset that they sent him home like that with a tick on his head and didnít even want to cut his hair. He is very embarrassed. Have you ever heard of a haircutter that would do something like that?

Answer: It has been another hot dry summer. Thatís two in a row with an unseasonably warm winter in between. The news is full of mosquito warnings of infestations much greater than normal. West Nile virus has even been reported in Aiken County.

The tick is another little bugger that you should keep your eyes out for. Anyone can become dinner. In the latter part of summer and in the fall, our area is overrun with deer ticks. These little guys hang from the tree limbs anywhere that deer are to be found, waiting for their prey to brush by, so they can hitch a ride.

Unfortunately for those of us who like to go hiking, go for a walk in the woods or just stroll in the yard, itís easy to become their next meal. Dog lovers, like me, particularly are at risk for one or more of these little guys making you and your home, their home.

Hair is a happy place for the tick to hide, although you will sometimes find them right out in the open on your skin. They have no fear. But you should. Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, STARI (Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness) and Tularemia can result from a single bite. If you find a tick, take care when removing it.

The Center for Disease Control says:

1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skinís surface as possible.

2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Donít twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.

3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub or soap and water.

4. Avoid folklore remedies such as ďpaintingĒ the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible Ė not waiting for it to detach.

A trip to a doctor is never a bad idea. Be sure to keep a close watch for signs of infection of the area or any signs of illness, such as fever or overall general fatigue.

Tell your son not to be ashamed. Salons are not allowed to remove a tick from a patron and should not prolong exposure by taking time to give a haircut. The professional did exactly what they were supposed to do.

I have dogs, and we hike in the woods here and also in the mountains. I pulled a tick off my head the other day after hiking in Brevard, N.C. I thought it was a pimple on my head and picked it off; him all wiggly and seeming to scream ďhelp meĒ like in the movie, ďThe Fly.Ē

Tip of the week: A heavy coating of insect repellent on your skin, clothes and hair is advised when you go outside, but a thorough spot check is still necessary just to be sure you arenít carrying a hitchhiker.

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