What Is the Proper Way to Remove a Tick?

Bottle of antibacterial soap with tweezers, cotton swabs, and rubbing alcohol

Everyone and their Great Aunt Edith seem to have friendly advice on how to remove a tick. The trick is knowing how to sort the myths from the facts—getting tick removal wrong could be dangerous. For example, burning a tick with a match and painting over it with nail polish are not safe ways to remove ticks (no matter what Aunt Edith says). Methods such as these can increase the risk of contracting Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. So, let’s take a look at how to remove a tick the right way.

The Importance of Using Safe Tick Removal Techniques

The proper way to remove a tick is unlike removing any other type of insect from the body. While you can simply brush away most bugs, a tick attaches to the body, bites the skin, inserts a barbed feeding tube, and begins drinking blood. Ticks differ from most biting bugs in that they burrow into the skin and remain attached to the body even after biting. Because many ticks carry diseases, they can pass these diseases to their human host while attached.

Certain unsafe removal methods can cause the tick to salivate and regurgitate into the bite site, which may increase the risk of disease transmission. This is just one reason why it’s essential to learn how to remove a tick safely.

What Are the Incorrect Tick Removal Methods?

As noted, removing a tick improperly can be even more damaging than leaving the tick to disengage on its own. In addition, it can increase your chance of contracting a tick-borne disease and infection. The following methods are NOT the proper way to remove a tick:

  • Applying heat to the tick’ body with a hot nail or match.
  • Covering the tick with petroleum jelly, alcohol, nail polish, or gasoline.
  • Killing the tick while it’s still attached to the skin.
  • Crushing, squeezing, twisting, or puncturing the tick.
  • Handling the tick body with bare hands.

Now, let’s review how to remove a tick safely.

Proper Tick Removal Methods

While you may be eager to remove a tick from your body or your child’s body as quickly as possible, it’s important to have the right supplies on hand first. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Pointy tweezers – Choose tweezers with a pointed tip, not square. Your typical eyebrow tweezers likely aren’t pointy enough and might tear the tick’s body.
  • Rubbing alcohol or soap and water – You will use this to clean the site thoroughly once the tick is removed.

Once you have these items ready to go, take the following steps to remove a tick safely to minimize the risk of infection:

  • Clean the area surrounding the tick bite with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
  • Take your pointed tweezers and place the point down into the skin so you can grasp the insect as closely as possible to the tick’s head.
  • Use slow, firm motion and apply steady pressure to pull the tick straight up and out of the skin—avoid jerking or twisting. If the tick breaks, make sure to go back to the bite site to remove the remaining head. If you are unable to remove the head, seek medical attention.
  • Once removed, avoid handling the tick with bare hands. Use the tweezers to place the tick’s body into a container with a blade of grass if you wish to keep it alive to send away for testing. Or safely dispose of the tick by flushing it down the toilet.
  • Use rubbing alcohol or soap and water to clean the bite area once again.

When you use this proper way to remove a tick, you can limit the damage caused by the bite. But remain alert to possible symptoms so you know if and when you should seek medical attention. 

Control Ticks and Other Pests with Mosquito Joe

You can never be too cautious about tick bites and preventing tick-borne illnesses. Now that you know how to remove a tick safely, you can take steps to enjoy outdoor fun free from these biters. Reach out to your local Mosquito Joe for barrier treatments designed to eliminate ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes. Call us at 1-855-275-2563 or contact us online to schedule professional tick control services. We’re making the outdoors fun again!

How do ticks transmit disease?

Because ticks drink the blood of their hosts, either human or animal, they can pick up any disease their host is infected with. The tick then transmits the disease through its saliva. When the tick bites, a small amount of saliva enters the new host’s skin. 

However, improper tick removal methods can stimulate the tick to salivate more heavily into the wound, increasing the transmission of pathogens. This is one reason it is essential to learn how to remove a tick safely. 

Do tick bites itch or hurt?

Typically, tick bites do not itch or even hurt. You are unlikely to even feel a tick bite, making regular checks for ticks essential. If you find a tick on you, a family member, or a pet, be sure you know how to remove a tick safely so you can limit the potential transmission of disease and infection.

How to check for ticks?

It’s critical to check for ticks thoroughly after returning indoors. Spotting ticks early can help reduce the risk of disease. Once a tick attaches to the skin of its host, the potential for transmission of a tick-borne disease increases significantly after 24 hours. Therefore a visual examination of your body and lightly skimming with your hands across your skin, especially in places you cannot see, is critical to early tick detection. 

A shower will wash off any crawling ticks. This is also a good time to search for ticks with your hands. Pay particular attention to underarms, behind ears and knees, under hair and on the scalp, inside the belly button, around the waist, and groin area. If you find an embedded tick on you or your pet, use the proper way to remove a tick, and discard it safely.

What are tick bite symptoms?

Several different tick-borne diseases have similar symptoms, like fever, chills, aches, pains, and a rash. If you get bitten by a tick, be sure to remove the tick safely and, if possible, save the specimen for examination should you, a loved one, or a pet develop any symptoms. If you do develop symptoms within a few weeks, seek medical attention and submit the tick you removed for testing.

For reference, a Lyme disease rash has a characteristic bull’s eye appearance. The bite location will be red and slightly swollen, with the area around it clear and surrounded by a ring of reddened skin.

Contact Mosquito Joe for Tick Control Services Near You

You can never be too cautious about tick bites and preventing tick-borne illnesses. While it’s great to know how to remove a tick safely, it’s so much better to prevent tick bites! So, add an extra layer of protection to your outdoor fun with Mosquito Joe’s tick barrier treatments. We can will help to protect your family and property from ticks and a variety of biters, including mosquitoes, fleas, and gnats.

You know your tick control service will be done right and on time because Mosquito Joe is a Neighborly company. Our services are backed by the Neighborly Done Right Promise and the Mosquito Joe® Satisfaction Guarantee!

Contact Us

Secure your patio and property for bite-free fun! Just reach out to your local Mosquito Joe for barrier treatments to eliminate and prevent ticks.

Call us at 1-855-275-2563 or contact us online to schedule professional tick control services.