How to Remove a Tick Properly in 10 Steps
When you see your very first tick, you may be horrified at first, but you may also find yourself a bit fascinated. Chances are, you are most likely going to see these little critters while in the woods or spending time outdoors; however, the truth is, ticks can be anywhere. These critters are not exactly appealing, and to some, they are downright gross. But, you still have to find an effective way to get rid of them.
While the one removal trick you know, burning the tick with a lit match, may come from the old-timey wisdom of your dad or grandpa, this is not always going to be the best course of action. In fact, there are much more effective and safer ways to get rid of ticks. When you take the time to get to know these methods and other steps that can help you with a tick problem, you can keep a cooler head next time you encounter one of these critters.
If you are ready to learn more about ticks and how you can safely remove them from yourself, a friend, or even your pet, you came to the right place. Here is a step by step guide to not only getting rid of a tick that has made itself at home in your flesh but also some tips on how you can prevent additional tick encounters down the road. This is vital and helpful information that everyone should keep in mind.
As mentioned above, if you notice a tick has chosen you as their host, you may be grossed out, worried, and a bit fascinated all at the same time. Regardless of your initial reaction to the presence of this tiny, blood-sucking creature, there is one thing you should avoid doing – panicking.
If you panic because you see a tick on your body, your child’s body, or even your pet’s body, you may respond in a knee-jerk way, which can actually cause quite a few problems. For example, if your initial thought is to simply rip the tick off the skin, you may leave behind parts of the tick without even realizing it. This can mean issues later on.
You may also try to use one of the unsafe removal methods that you have heard of in the past. Both of these reactions are not smart or well-thought out. Try to calm down once you have spotted the tick and think about the situation logically. You want to make sure that you remove the whole tick, so you need to use an effective and proven method to do this.
While tick removal is not rocket science, if you panic due to this creature’s presence, you may actually do more harm than good. Take a minute to calm down and then utilize the information here to easily and successfully remove your unwanted guest.
9Don’t Fall for the Well-Known Tick Removal Myths
There are a number of folk remedies that are floating around regarding how you can get rid of a tick. While the most popular, which was mentioned above, is to touch it with a hot match, there are others, as well. For example, one myth claims that covering the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly suffocates it, causing it to die and fall off. Another myth is that you can freeze it off. The idea is either to make the tick “back out” of your skin on its own, or simply fall out of your flesh; however, this not usually want happens. In fact, in most cases, the opposite effect occurs. The tick holds on tighter, burrows deeper, and possibly deposits even more of its disease-ridden secretions into the open wound. This only increases the risk of developing an infection.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these methods are not only ineffective for removing a tick, they can also make it even more difficult to get rid of the bug. If you are unsure of if your method of tick removal is effective or if it is going to cause more damage, it may be best to go to your doctor for help. While not all ticks carry Lyme disease, in most cases, it is better to be safe than sorry down the road. Doctors know what methods of tick removal work and which ones that are better left alone.
Ticks are small; usually exceptionally small. They can be difficult to detect and even harder to remove, thus, it is recommended that you use tweezers for this process. Do not use the traditional household tweezers that have blunt tips. Instead, choose pointy tweezers that can grab on to the small creature that has buried itself in your skin. There is a striking difference between these types of tweezers, so be sure to get the right kind prior to starting the extraction process.
Adult ticks that are unfed are approximately the size of an apple seed. A tick that is in the nymph stage is even smaller, approximately the size of a poppy seed. As the tick becomes engorged on your blood, it changes how it looks, as well as its size.
If you use household tweezers for removing the tick, it increases the risk of tearing the tick when you are trying to remove it. This is especially true for nymph ticks, which are most active between the months of April and August. Pointed tweezers are effective at helping you grab the entire tick body, ensuring that nothing is left behind, which can cause an infection or further problems for you down the road. If you don’t have this type of tweezer at home, it is best to seek the help of your doctor to ensure all parts of the tick are successfully removed.
7Remove the Tick
With your fine-point tweezers in hand, you should grab the tick as closely to the surface of your skin as you can. Once you have it securely held in the tweezers, pull in an upward motion with even, steady pressure. Do not try to jerk or twist the tick off or out of the skin. If you do this, it can result in parts of the tick’s mouth breaking off and remaining embedded in the skin. If this occurs, the mouth parts also need to be removed with the pointy tweezers you are using. When you find it is impossible to remove the mouth easily with your tweezers (after being disinfected) you should leave it alone and seek the help of a doctor.
Once the tick is removed, if it is still alive, you can kill it by submersing it in alcohol and putting it inside of a sealed container or bag. Other ways to dispose of a tick include wrapping it tightly in tape or flushing it down the toilet. You should never try to crush a tick with your fingers.
Removing a tick the right way is important if you want to ensure no other issues arise from its presence. As stated before, if you are unable to do this on your own, ask for help from a family member or friend or go to your doctor or the local health department for assistance with the removal of the tick.
6Save the Tick Body for Testing
While there is no need to panic if you notice a tick has decided to feast on your blood, there are a few precautionary steps you should take to ensure no further issues may arise. If you have successfully removed the tick from your skin, you may wonder if you should have it tested. There are some local health departments that offer tick testing and identification for research purposes or as a community service. You can check with your health department to see if this service is available.
The testing process is used to determine if the tick contained a disease-causing organism. If it does, you know for sure that you should be tested for this. If you have been infected by the tick, symptoms may develop and when you know what they are caused by, you can seek out the proper type of treatment.
Also, with this testing, you can get to know the types of ticks that are present in your area. For example, there are certain ticks that carry and transmit certain diseases. Getting to know what you may be at risk for allows you to take the proper precautions in the future.
To save the tick, you can either put the body in a plastic bag or simply tape it to a piece of paper to take in to be tested. Knowing the potential risk that is present is always better than being caught off-guard due to a tick bite.
5Wash Your Hands and Disinfect the Area where You Removed the Tick
Once you have successfully removed the tick from your skin, you need to use hot, soapy water to disinfect the area where the tick latched on. You also need to wash your hands after removing it and disinfect the tweezers that you used. This should be done for any and everything that came in contact with the tick. Disinfecting the area and tools used kills any residual germs or bacteria present.
As an extra step, it may also be wise to swab the bite area with alcohol. If you don’t clean the area well, the disease-ridden secretions from the tick may remain on your skin and near the open wound. This can result in the infection entering your blood stream, even after the tick has been successfully removed.
It may be a good idea to actually clean the area several times a day until it has completely healed. Killing the germs minimizes the potential of infection before the wound has completely healed. While it may seem like overkill, the fact is, regardless of the size of the wound it provides a direct path to the inside of your body. As a result, you need to ensure it remains clean and germ-free. The best way to do this is by washing it well on a regular basis and then covering it with some type of bandage or other protective covering. This can help ensure that further issues don’t arise from the tick bite.
4Monitor for Signs of Lyme Disease
There are quite a few people who don’t fully understand Lyme disease. For example, some people are concerned that this is an untreatable condition if they don’t get antibiotics early on. This is simply not the case. However, it is still important to be aware of signs of this disease and take action if you notice any after a tick bite.
Watch the area where the bite occurred for expanding redness, which may suggest erythema migrans, or EM, which is a characteristic of the rash created by Lyme disease. Usually, this rash is salmon in color, but in some cases may appear as intense red. The lesion usually expands over a period of a few days or weeks and can reach sizes of more than eight inches in diameter. As the rash continues to expand, it can turn clear near the center. There are usually not symptoms accompanying the rash, but some itching and burning have been reported in the past.
If you notice these signs, it is a good idea to get to the doctor quickly for treatment. In most cases, only those that suffer multiple tick bites are at risk for developing Lyme disease, simply because of how rare the condition is. However, it is still wise to watch for any symptoms and take action if they are noticed. Regardless of the size of the tick, or how long it was attached to the skin, this can have serious consequences if it is not treated in a timely manner.
3Follow Up With a Doctor
While most tick encounters are nothing to worry about, as long as you are able to successfully remove it, there are some situations where medical care may be necessary. Some of the reasons it may be wise to seek the care of a doctor after a tick bite are found here.
If the tick may have been embedded in your skin for more than 24 hours it is a good idea to seek medical attention. Another reason to seek the care of your doctor is if part of the tick remains in your skin after you have removed it. In most cases, a doctor has the specialized tools to easily remove any remaining parts of a tick.
If you notice any type of rash around the tick bite, especially the type of rash described above, then it is wise to seek the care of a doctor. In addition to the red bullseye type of rash, you may also see red dots on your ankles or wrists. When this type of rash appears, it could be an indication of an infection and medical care is needed.
If the bite area begins to look infected, is swollen, painful, feels warm to the touch or oozing pus, you may need to take antibiotics to kill the infection. Other symptoms to watch out for after a tick bite include joint or muscle aches, a stiff back or stiff neck, fatigue, headache and a fever also require the care of a doctor since it may indicate a bigger, more serious problem.
2Check for Ticks on Other Parts of the Body
If you spend a lot of time outdoors, chances are you will find a tick is present on your body or clothing at some point or another. This is true for you, your kids, and your pets. If you do discover a tick has made itself at home in your flesh, it is a good idea to check your body (or your child’s or pet’s) for other ticks that may be present.
When you initially come inside, you should check all over your body, which includes your underarms, head, and groin. Use a fine-tooth comb to check your hair, or have someone check your scalp for you.
If you find ticks on your clothing, you should put the item inside of your hot dryer, or hang the item in the sun when it is hot outside for a period of no less than 15 minutes. The heat usually kills the ticks. You should also check for the presence of ticks on any gear you had along with you while in the woods.
During the summer months, it is a good idea to check your kids each day when they come inside from playing. You should also check your pets since they can carry ticks inside. The tick may fall off the animal and then adhere to your skin. If you put effort into finding ticks right away, the issues you experience because of their presence can be significantly reduced.
1Take Steps to Prevent Ticks
The only absolute, foolproof way to remain tick free is to avoid places where the ticks may be. This means staying out of high grass and brush and keeping out of wooded areas. If you like spending time outdoors, then there are some tips you can use to help prevent ticks. Some of the most effective ways to do this include:
- Wear light-colored clothing. The light colors make it easier to spot ticks, especially smaller nymph ticks or deer ticks.
- Wear pants while outdoors and tuck the cuffs into your socks. This may not be an attractive look but it creates a physical barrier that ticks can’t get through.
- Use a strong insect repellent. The majority of chemicals that can repel mosquitoes are also effective against ticks. However, if possible, find a repellent that includes 30 to 40 percent DEET, which is most effective against ticks. Permethrin is another chemical that can be effective at keeping ticks away.
- Stay as close to the middle of a path in the woods, high grass, or brush as you can. Ticks don’t jump or fly so they only get on you if you run into something they live on.
- Stay in sunny areas. Ticks cannot thrive in open, dry areas.
Taking steps to prevent ticks reduces the need for getting rid of one. These are steps you can use regardless of where you go or what you are doing while outdoors.
No one wants to have to deal with a tick. Regardless of if it is on themselves, their kids, or their pets, acting fast prevents more serious issues. With the steps here, you should have the knowledge to easily remove ticks that have attached to your flesh, clothing, or onto your pet. Some important tips to remember include that you should never rip or twist a tick out of your skin, you should not squeeze a tick to kill it, and if you notice any signs of infection or other adverse side effects of a tick bite, you should get to the doctor right away.
While most tick bites are nothing to worry about, being informed is the best way to prevent a serious issue. If you are concerned or if you just want to be sure that no other issues are present, you can have your doctor inspect the tick bite and opt to have the actual tick tested for diseases. This can give you peace of mind that no serious consequences arise from a tick bite.
Ticks are common. As a result, it is likely that if you spend any time outdoors, encountering one at some point or another is inevitable. Knowing what to do and how to effectively get rid of the tick is essential. Thanks to the tips and information here, you don’t have to guess at what to do or how to handle the situation. This allows you to approach the situation with a calm, clear head and make sure the tick is removed and that it cannot cause any more issues.