How to remove a tick

  • Don’t squeeze, twist or squash it. Don’t burn it with a match or cover it with Vaseline.
  • Use fine-point tweezers or a special tick-removing tool. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. If you don’t have tweezers, protect your fingers with a tissue.

How to remove a tick

  • Pull the tick straight out with steady, even pressure. Click here to view a tick’s mouth and why it is so important to pull out the tick correctly.
  • Disinfect the bite area and wash your hands.
  • Save the tick for testing (alive if possible) in a small bottle or plastic bag with a green leaf or damp piece of tissue.
  • Label it with your name, date, site of bite and how long tick was attached.

Tick Testing

If you’ve been bitten, you can send the tick to test and determine if the tick is carrying the pathogens that can lead to tick-borne illness to the following organizations:

Whether or not you find a tick, stay alert for symptoms of tick-borne illness. A bull’s-eye rash indicates Lyme disease, though not everybody with Lyme gets one. You might have a different rash or none at all. You may develop flu-like symptoms—fever, headache, nausea—or joint pain or dizziness. Consult a physician as needed.

How do I safely remove a tick?

Step 1: Gather your supplies:

  • Gloves
  • Pointed tweezers
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Small container or vial with lid

Step 2: Put on protective gloves to avoid getting any infection-carrying fluids on your skin.

Step 3: With pointed tweezers, grasp the tick’s head as close to the skin as possible.

Step 4: Firmly, but gently, pull the tick outward.

  • Do not twist, yank, or crush the tick.
  • If any parts of the tick are left behind, consult your doctor or veterinarian.
  • A tick removal tool may also be used. Follow the directions provided with the tool as each tool may be different. Some are designed to grab and twist, while some may pull the tick out.
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Step 5: Submerge the whole tick in rubbing alcohol to kill it. Do not crush the tick.

  • Consult your doctor or your dog’s veterinarian about sending the tick for testing. She will make a recommendation based on the prevalence of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illness in your area.

Step 6: Clean the affected area with soap and water and swab with antiseptic wipes or a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol.

Step 7: Dispose of your gloves and wash your hands.

Quick Tips:

  • DO grasp the tick as close to the head as possible
  • DO pull firmly to remove the whole tick
  • DO consult your doctor or veterinarian for next steps
  • DO wear insect repellent or insect repelling clothing while hiking
  • DO use regular flea and tick preventative for your dog, as recommended by your veterinarian
  • DO check everyone, including your dog, for ticks immediately after hiking or visiting an area where ticks may be present
  • DO NOT twist, jerk, tug, or crush the tick
  • DO NOT use your fingernail to try to remove the tick
  • DO NOT use lit matches, petroleum jelly, nail polish, or other folk remedies to remove a tick, the safest method is to use tweezers or a special tick removal tool

About Ticks and Tick-Borne Illness

Though not all ticks carry disease, tick-borne illnesses can be passed from a tick to an animal or human. Potential illnesses that a tick can transmit include Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, among others. Not every tick bite requires treatment, but you should watch for signs of illness after finding a tick on yourself or a pet.

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If you notice any signs of illness in the next few weeks, or if a rash or swelling appears, consult your doctor. Lyme disease and other illnesses can take weeks to months to appear in humans or animals.

Signs of illness may include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever or chills
  • Stiffness
  • Painful joints or muscles
  • Rash
  • Weakness

How to remove ticks:

1. Protect yourself. Put on the latex gloves to protect your skin from any tick bites.

2. Remove the tick. 

With fine-tipped tweezers: Pinch the tick below the head and pull the insect away from the skin in one steady motion to get the entire tick. Avoid pinching your pet's skin and be sure not to pull too roughly.

With a tick remover tool: Press the tool against your pet's skin and slide it toward the tick until the parasite is snagged in the notch of the tick removal device. When you pull back, the tick's body should remain in the notch of the tool.

3. Kill the tick. Pour isopropyl alcohol in a small jar or container and drop the live tick into the chemical liquid. It will instantly kill them. It is a good idea to keep these ticks around for identifying purposes if necessary.

4. Clean the bite area. Dab a cotton ball soaked in antiseptic on the bite site to prevent infection of the area. This will not prevent transmission of a tick-borne disease but can topically clean the area.

Close up of the tick on the white fur

5. Monitor your pet. Keep an eye out for symptoms related to tick-borne diseases such as lethargy, inappetence, joint pain, fever, flu-like symptoms, or general abnormal behavior. If symptoms persist, take your pet into the vet.

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Common misconceptions on removing ticks include home remedies and folklore remedies like using a hot match to get the tick to wiggle out or rubbing the tick with petroleum jelly or nail polish in order to detach the tick. These tactics can be dangerous because the tick's mouth can stay attached and there is higher risk for disease transmission.

You might want to bring along the tick jar so the vet can identify the species as certain ticks, like the deer tick, are linked to specific diseases. Not every tick carries a disease, but if you are aware of the possibility of transmission, you could nip a long-term illness in the bud.

See how simple that is? Ticks are not fun to deal with but removing them is an easy fix. Remember, prevention is the best way to avoid any tick infestation!

Visit the CDC website for more information.

Has your pet ever had a tick? How did you get rid of it? Let us know in the comments below!

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