a person holding a safely removed tick

How to Safely Remove a Tick

If you’ve spent any time outdoors during the summer, you know how easily it is for ticks to attach themselves to you. Unfortunately, these parasites are responsible for the transmission of potentially deadly diseases such as tick fever and Lyme disease—that’s why it’s so important to remove them quickly and safely once they are detected. Here’s a quick rundown of what safe tick removal looks like.

Removing the Tick

  • The best method for removing a tick is with tweezers. However, if those aren’t available you can use tissue paper or gloves as well. You should never touch a tick with your bare hands.
  • Begin by grabbing the tick with the tweezers as close to its head, the part attached to you, as possible. Part of its mouth will be below your skin—don’t try to dig it out, though.
  • Avoid grabbing the tick around its abdomen. The pressure from the tweezers could push fluids from the tick under your skin, which can cause an infection.
  • Tug on the tick gently until it loosens the grip of its mouth from your skin. Try not to twist the tick during this step, because that can cause the mouth to detach from its body, leaving it embedded in your skin.
  • Freeze the tick in a sandwich bag in case you need it later for identification purposes.

Aftercare

Once the tick has been successfully removed, clean the affected area with warm water and soap. If you would like, you can also apply an antibiotic cream just to be safe. However, discontinue use of any ointments if you develop a rash or itching near the affected area.

Special Considerations

Sometimes a tick will be too small to determine whether the head has been removed. However, there are some tell-tale signs that indicated it’s still attached. These include inflammation, redness, and warmth, as well as the presence of pus in the affected area.

A common folk cure for ticks is covering them with rubbing alcohol, gasoline, or nail polish. However, this approach is not recommended because it can make the tick ill and cause it to regurgitate infected fluid into your skin.

Last Updated: February 12, 2016