How to Remove a Tick

One of the smallest, but possibly most dangerous critters to be found while enjoying outdoor adventures such as hiking, camping, or even just working in your yard, is the tick.  Ticks can carry diseases, such as Lyme, that can cause serious health problems.  Many ticks carry nothing at all. But, if you are bitten by a tick, you need to remove it as soon as possible to reduce the risk.  According to WebMD, the Boy Scouts of America Field Guide, and the training materials for the BSA First Aid merit badge, the correct way to remove a tick is as follows:

Tips for tick safety infographic. How to remove ticks.

Remove a Tick From The Skin

If the tick has embedded itself in the flesh, use a small pair of tweezers and grasp the tick gently and as closely to the skin of the person or pet it has embedded itself in as you can.  Slowly, pull it straight out.  Don’t yank it, or twist it, as you will increase the chances of breaking it off and leaving the head/mouth embedded in the flesh.

If you don’t get the whole tick out, the CDC recommends using sterilized tweezers to remove the remaining mouth parts. If there is anything remaining that you cannot remove you may want to consult your physician.

Tick Removal Tools

Removing a Tick using Tweezers
Tweezers removing a tick from human skin

I’ve found and purchased some gadgets over the years labeled tick pullers.  Some good, some not.  The good ones simply replace tweezers and help you get low and close to the flesh, and/or help you gently pull the tick out.  But they all do essentially the same thing. If you have one of these gadgets, use it.  But any decent first aid kit already has a small pair of tweezers in it, and these work just fine.

Tick Prevention

If you are outdoors where ticks may be, check yourself daily to make sure that you don’t have any tagging along for a ride on you, or in your clothing.  If you are participating in activities in the woods or fields where ticks are or might be present, wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt with snug-fitting cuffs.  Tuck your pants into your socks.  And use bug spray on your clothing that repels ticks.  There is even tick repellent clothing available, to simplify protecting yourself.  If a tick cannot be fully removed, or if it has been embedded in your skin for more than a day, you should consult with a doctor.

Know your area, and where ticks may be found.  Make sure you protect yourself and your pets from being bitten by potentially infected ticks. Here is some helpful information for further information.

CDC guide to removing ticks

Information from the CDC about tickborne diseases including lyme.

Lyme Disease Association

Information on ticks and tick-borne disease, prevention and identification from the University of Rhode Island

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