Ticks - Removal

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How is a tick removed from the skin?

The following is a step-by-step method that is suggested for safe and effective removal of all types of ticks. Web citations 2 and 3 show a diagram of how to place tweezers to remove a tick.

Picture of how to safely remove a tick
Picture of how to safely remove a tick
  1. Use a small pair of curved forceps or tweezers. Wear some sort of hand protection such as gloves so you don't spread pathogens from the tick to your hands.
  2. Using the tweezers, carefully flip the tick over onto its back. Grasp the tick firmly with the tweezers as close to the skin as possible. Apply gentle pulling until the tick comes free. Twisting or turning the tick does not make removal easier because the mouthparts are barbed; in fact, such actions may break off the head and mouthparts, thereby increasing the chances for infection. The second web citation illustrates the proper removal of a tick.
  3. Once the tick is removed, don't crush the tick because it may release pathogens. Rinse it down a sink or flush it down a toilet. Consider keeping it in a tightly closed jar or taped to a piece of paper. Show the tick to the doctor if the person bitten becomes ill after the tick bite.
  4. The area of the bite should leave a small crater or indentation where the head and mouthparts were embedded. If portions of the head or mouthparts remain, they should be removed by a doctor.
  5. After removing the tick, thoroughly cleanse the bite area with soap and water or a mild disinfectant. Observe the area for several days for development of a reaction to the bite, such as a rash or signs of infection. Apply antibiotic cream to the area. Application of an antibiotic to the area may help prevent a local infection but usually does not affect the chance of developing diseases transmitted by the tick.
  6. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly after handling any tick or instruments that touched a tick. Clean and disinfect any instruments that were used.

Other ways to remove ticks, such as using a hot match head or painting the tick with nail polish, gasoline, or other materials, are not advised. Such treatments can cause the tick to release more fluids back into the bite and increases the chance to transmit disease before the tick releases itself from the skin.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: Hateticks, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: June 13

I have had several ticks and have developed an allergy to them. Sadly, many medical professionals do not recognize the potential dangers of them. My side effects were vomiting dizziness, swollen throat, chest pain, and extreme itching at the site of the tick bite. I have learned about an automotive product named Aerostart. If you have a tick, you simply spray it with this product and it freezes the tick and kills it. Hence, it does not release its venom. Usually a tick will release venom as it becomes aggravated when being removed with traditional methods. If you experience any of the symptoms, please go to emergency room at your hospital. If you are allergic to tick bites, they can be deadly and you need adrenaline immediately.

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Comment from: bemery, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: May 09

Take nail polish remover on a cotton ball, with acetone preferably, or without. Hold it on the tick. They die, then you can remove with tweezers. Flip the tick up on its head, and pull it out, straight up, grasping it with the tweezers laid right on the skin, not to pinch the skin; it will have a blood spot on the skin if you get the head. If not... use hydrogen peroxide on a cotton ball, either way, lay it on top of the spot where the bite occurred. The peroxide draws out the toxins, and will draw the head back out as well. I just got bit here in PA, first time, in PA. A few times in NW OH. This technique has worked with me and my sons when they were growing up. I worked in a hair salon in the country. We used this method to remove ticks on more than a couple of people.

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