How to Remove a Tick Properly


Ticks    Tips/Solutions   

fully fed tick found on a man in maryland


Photo by Jared Belson      


Whether you’re a frequent visitor at your local wooded park, a hiker, or a parent, proper tick removal is something we all should know in case we are bitten. The most common ticks found in DC, Maryland, and Virginia are the American Dog tick, the Brown dog tick, the Lone Star tick, and the Deer tick. If you are ever bitten, it is important to know it takes 24 or more hours for the bacterium that causes Lyme disease to transfer from the tick to you. The percentage of contracting the virus before that time period is very minimal, hovering at no more than 1.4%. Even if it is an area where Lyme disease is prevalent.

There are many new gadgets and tools that are marketed towards achieving the perfect tick removal, however, a pair of sharp tweezers will do the trick. The most important part is to properly remove the mouth parts from the skin to prevent the tick from spitting up its gut contents (or more saliva) into your bloodstream. The bacteria that causes Lyme resides in the tick’s stomach and increasing saliva exposure increases your risk of contracting Lyme.

Below are the tools you’ll need and proper steps in achieving the perfect tick removal from your skin:

Tools You Will Need

  • Gloves
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Tweezers (preferably pointy. Blunt tweezers do not precisely grab the tick and can leave the mouthparts behind)
  • Great Lighting

Proper Ways to Remove a Tick

  1. Put on a pair of gloves to protect your skin
  2. Disinfect the tweezers with the rubbing
  3. Grab tick at the base of its head close to the skin. Be careful to not grab the skin itself.
  4. Pull slowly in an upward motion. Ticks burrow its mouth parts deeper in the skin than you may think. A ticks mouth is formally called a hypostome and are have barbed like ridges that help keep it attached. Do not snatch or twist. Pulling up slowly will insure that you remove is entire hypostome from the skin.
  5. Once the tick is removed, use some more rubbing alcohol to disinfect the bite. It is also important that you clean the tweezers as well.
  6. Properly dispose of tick; flush it down the toilet, drop it in some alcohol, or save it in a jar or a secure container if you wish to have it identified and tested.


What You Should NOT Do:         

  1. Do not burn the tick.

Burning the tick puts the host at risk of having a higher chance of being exposed to any bacteria the tick carries by not removing the mouthparts completely. This may also cause the host to be burned.

  1. Do not smother the tick in petroleum jelly or any other substances.

Do not wait for the tick to detach from the host or use any other methods that will risk not removing the tick in its entirety. Removing it with point tweezers is the best way to reduce infection by making sure the mouthparts are completely removed.

  1. Do not wait!

Do not wait to see your doctor or for the tick to detach. Use the proper tweezers and remove the tick as soon as possible.


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