What Is the Proper Way to Remove a Tick?
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. 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 result in an increased risk of diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Why It’s Important to Use Safe Methods for Tick Removal
Removing 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, and begins drawing blood. Ticks differ from most biting bugs in that they tend to burrow into the skin and remain attached to the body even after biting. Because many ticks carry diseases, they can pass these diseases to the 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.
Improper removal techniques include:
- 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
How to Properly Remove a Tick
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 you have these items ready to go, take these five steps to remove a tick correctly 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 grab as closely as possible to the tick’s head.
- Use slow, firm motion, and 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 and send away for testing. Or safely dispose of the tick by flushing it down the toilet.
- Use the rubbing alcohol or soap and water to clean the bite area once again.
Tick Bite Symptoms: What You Need to Know
After removing the tick, it’s important to inspect the surrounding area thoroughly for signs of infection. Contact your doctor immediately if you notice a bull’s-eye rash, characterized by a raised spot with a clear center at the bite location.
Continue to keep an eye on the bite site in the following days and contact your doctor as soon as possible if you notice any of these potential signs of Lyme disease:
- Body aches, muscle pain or a stiff neck
- Fever and/or chills
- Fainting spells
If you saved the tick in a container, bring it along with you to the doctor’s appointment because it can help to diagnose disease.
Check for Ticks Regularly
The risk of Lyme disease transmission increases significantly after 24 hours of attachment, so it is a good idea to check yourself and any family members for ticks regularly. Checking at least daily for ticks is an ideal practice. However, if you, family members, or a pet are outside often, it’s wise to check each time you come indoors. Look under arms, behind ears and knees, under hair and on the scalp, inside the belly button, around the waist, and between legs.
Treat Your Yard for Ticks and Other Pests
You can never be too cautious when it comes to tick bites and preventing tick-borne illnesses. If you want to add an extra layer of protection to your outdoor fun, reach out to your local Mosquito Joe for barrier treatments designed to eliminate ticks. Call us at 1-855-275-2563 or contact us online to schedule professional tick control services.
Ticks gross a lot of people out. Check out these recommendations for cleaning gross things more painlessly from our friends at Molly Maid. Molly Maid is another member of the Neighborly® family of home service brands.