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The right and wrong way to remove a tick

This time of year, it's essential to guard against ticks when you're enjoying a walk or hike in an area with grasses and shrubs. Ticks can transmit serious diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme disease, and Tularemia

In those cases where you discover that a tick has hitched a ride on your body (or your pet) and gotten comfortable, here are some DOs and DON'Ts when it comes to removing the tick:

DON'T:

  • Use your bare hands to remove the tick. 
  • Yank out the tick by its abdomen. 
  • Twist or jerk the tick as you're trying to remove it. This can cause its mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin. 
  • Crush a tick with your fingers.
  • Apply nail polish or petroleum jelly to the tick. (It's believed by some that 'suffocating' the tick in this manner is effective. It's not.)
  • Use heat to burn the tick's body. This may actually release the contents of its abdomen into the host, which can cause infection or spread disease.
  • Freeze the tick. Just as above, this can cause the abdomen contents to release into the host.

DO:

  • Use a pair of fine-point tweezers.
  • Grab the tick as close to its head/mouth as possible -- as close to your skin as you can.
  • Pull the tick out slowly, with light pressure.
  • Put the tick into a small clear plastic bag or jar and freeze it, in case a medical professional needs to identify it.
  • Thoroughly clean the tick bite area with rubbing alcohol.
  • Wash your hands with warm, soapy water after handling the tick.

 

Here's a visual depiction of the removal process from the TickEncounter Resource Center