If you find a tick attached to your skin, there's no need to panic. There are several tick removal devices on the market, but a plain set of fine-tipped tweezers will remove a tick quite effectively.
How to remove a tick
- Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible.
- Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
- After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
- Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.
If you develop a rash or fever within several weeks of removing a tick, see your doctor. Be sure to tell the doctor about your recent tick bite, when the bite occurred, and where you most likely acquired the tick.
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Ticks: How to Avoid and Remove Ticks - Overview
Most ticks do not carry diseases, and most tick bites do not cause serious health problems. But it is important to avoid and check for ticks, and to remove a tick as soon as you find it. Removing the tick completely may help you avoid diseases such as Lyme disease that the tick may pass on during feeding, or a skin infection where the tick bit you.
How to avoid tick bites
- Learn where ticks and deer that carry ticks are most commonly found in your community. Avoid those areas if possible.
- Cover as much of your body as possible when working or playing in grassy or wooded areas. Wear a hat, a long-sleeved shirt, and long pants with the legs tucked into your socks. Keep in mind that it is easier to spot ticks on light-colored clothes.
- Use insect repellents, such as products with DEET.
- Clear leaves, brush, tall grasses, woodpiles, and stone fences from around your house and the edges of your yard or garden. This may help reduce ticks and the rodents that the ticks depend on.
- Remove plants that attract deer, and use barriers to keep deer-and the deer ticks camera.gif they may carry-out of your yard.
- Call your local landscaping nursery or county extension office to see if your yard can be treated for ticks with nonchemical or environmentally safe methods.
Checking for ticks
- When you come in from outdoors, check all over your body for ticks, including your groin, head, and underarms. Comb your hair with a fine-toothed comb, or have someone check your scalp.
- To remove ticks from clothing, put your clothes in a hot dryer or hang them out in the sun on a hot day for at least 15 minutes. The heat can kill the ticks. Also check for ticks on any gear you had with you in the woods.
- Check your children daily for ticks, especially during the summer months.
- Check your pets for ticks after they've been outdoors. Your pets can carry infected ticks indoors where they might fall off your pet and attach to you.
- Grab the tick as close to its mouth (the part that is stuck in your skin) as you can. The body of the tick will be above your skin.
- Do not grab the tick around its swollen belly. You could push infected fluid from the tick into your body if you squeeze it.
- Gently pull the tick straight out until its mouth lets go of your skin. Do not twist the tick. This may break off the tick's body and leave the head in your skin.
- Put the tick in a dry jar or ziplock bag and save it in the freezer for later identification if needed.
NOTE: If you can't remove a tick, call your doctor.
You may cover the wound with a thin layer of petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, and a nonstick bandage. Apply more petroleum jelly and replace the bandage as needed.
Some ticks are so small it is hard to see them. This makes it hard to tell if you have removed the tick's head. If you do not see any obvious parts of the tick's head where it bit you, assume you have removed the entire tick, but watch for symptoms of a skin infection.
If you have a rash, headache, joint pain, fever, or flu-like symptoms, this could mean you have an illness related to a tick bite. If you have any of these symptoms, or symptoms of a skin infection, call your doctor.
What to avoid
Do not try to:
- Smother a tick that is stuck to your skin with petroleum jelly, nail polish, gasoline, or rubbing alcohol.
- Burn the tick while it is stuck to your skin.
There are some tick-removal devices that you can buy. If you are active outdoors in areas where there are a lot of ticks, you may want to consider buying such a device.
How to Remove Ticks From Pets Step-by-Step
Ticks can transmit deadly diseases to a pet within 24 hours of a bite, so swift removal is key.
Here’s the best way to remove a tick from your dog or cat so you’re prepared to get rid of these dangerous parasites.
Before you start the actual removal process, gather everything that you need to remove the offending tick from your pet first. It's harder to try and manage a squirming animal while looking for your tweezers or rubbing alcohol than it is having everything you need within arm's reach.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
- Tweezers (pointy ones work best)
- Latex or rubber gloves
- Rubbing alcohol
- Antiseptic wipes (optional)
- Jar or container with lid
STEPS FOR REMOVING A TICK
Step 1: Put on your gloves.
Ticks carry infectious agents that can seep into a human’s bloodstream through breaks in the skin. It’s better to play it safe and wear protective gear.
Step 2: Steady your pet and keep him calm.
When you’re getting ready to remove the tick you’ve got to keep your pet calm. Any unusual poking or prodding tends to make dogs and cats nervous. If there is another person available, have that person hold your pet and keep him relaxed
Step 3: Position your tweezers.
Take a pair of tweezers—pointy ones work best—and grab hold of the tick as close to your dog’s skin as possible. Be careful not to pinch your dog’s skin.
Step 4: Pull out the tick.
Using steady pressure, pull the tick out using a straight motion. Do not twist or jerk the tick because you want to avoid leaving the tick’s mouthparts behind. Also, make sure not to squeeze or crush the tick, since its fluids may contain infectious material. After removing the tick, examine it to make sure the head and mouth parts were removed. If not, take your pet to veterinarian to remove what's left in the pet's skin.
Step 5: Kill the tick.
Kill the tick by placing it in a container with rubbing alcohol. Once the tick is dead, most veterinarians recommend keeping it in the container with a lid incase your pet begins displaying symptoms of disease.
Step 6: Disinfect the bite site.
Use antiseptic spray or wipes to disinfect the bite site and keep an eye on it for signs of infection. If the bite site remains red or becomes inflamed, make an appointment with your veterinarian.
Step 7: Reward your pet.
After you’ve removed the tick from your dog or cat, praise your pet for being good. Give him or her a treat and add in some extra playtime as a special reward.
KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR PET
Make sure to keep a close eye on your dog or cat over the next few weeks and be on the lookout for any strange symptoms including a reluctance to move, fever, fatigue, loss of appetite and swollen lymph nodes. If your dog displays any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your vet immediately.