Properly Tick Removal
There are several bad ideas for how to remove a tick, and only one safe and effective method. Here are the “Don’ts” and “Dos” of tick removal.
Better yet, have another family member inspect you for ticks immediately after you have been in habitats where ticks may be present. Ticks often embed themselves in places where you cannot see them, or even feel them, such as behind your knees or ears, at the base of your scalp, in your groin, the small of your back, and armpits. The sooner a tick is removed, the less likely there is a chance of disease transmission.
- Smear the tick with petroleum jelly or some other ointment or substance to “suffocate” it and cause it to back out of your flesh. This does not work.
- Apply fingernail polish, alcohol, or any other flammable material to the tick.
- Touch the tick with a lit cigarette, burning or burned-out match, or other flame or hot object, as you may end up burning yourself.
- Crush the tick or attempt to scratch it out. This may cause the tick to secrete more salivary material that could contain disease pathogens.
- Use forceps (“tweezers”) with medium or fine, blunt tips to grasp the tick as close to the point of entry as possible. This may mean depressing the skin of the victim where the tick is half-buried, exposing the head of the tick if at all possible.
- Grasp the head of the tick and begin pulling steadily. Be patient, do not jerk the tick and break off its mouthparts.
- For even simpler removal try a Tick Nipper to easily and safely remove ticks like the Tick Nipper for People & Pets
- Once the tick is removed, circle the bite wound with an indelible marker and see your physician to make sure the tick’s mouthparts came out with the rest of the animal. Some ticks secrete a cement or glue that anchors their mouthparts, making their extrication nearly impossible, no matter how careful you are.
The best way to remove a tick is not to get one. When heading outdoors make sure to apply bug repellent. Use a Permethrin repellent like Ben’s® Clothing and Gear Continuous Spray, to keep ticks off your shoes and clothing. Then use a DEET based repellent like Ben’s 30 6oz Tick & Insect Repellent or Ben’s 100 3.4oz to keep ticks off your skin. Avoid tall grass, forest edges, and narrow trails through forests, fields, meadows, and banks of rivers and lakes. Wear light-colored clothing so ticks will be easily visible. Tuck the cuffs of your pants into your boots or socks. Inspect your pets for ticks, too, before they come inside.