A tick’s nature is to bury its head into your skin and feast until it’s quite engorged with blood. Although it will likely fall off on its own after a few days once it has had its fill, quick removal is important to prevent infection.
Here’s a step-by-step list of instructions to guide you through the process plus a few tips list at the bottom.
*These apply to both humans and pets
- Protect your hands with latex gloves if possible (a tissue will do if you’re in a pinch) and use tweezers to grab the tick as close to the skin as possible.
- Gently pull it out (in a slow, straight up motion, not squeezing, twisting or yanking).
- If you don’t have tweezers: Try tying strong thread around it (close to the head) and gently tug at it until it comes out. You can also try pulling it out with your hands (protect them with gloves or a tissue).
- If it’s too small to grab hold of, try brushing it out with the edge of a heavy plastic card (like a credit card): Push the edge of the card into your flesh near the head then sweep out with pressure focused on the area underneath the insect. Some believe this is the safest method because there’s no danger of squeezing it so hard that it releases bacteria (which transmits disease).
- Important: You don’t want to apply too much pressure to the body or squeeze too hard since this can cause more bacteria or saliva to be released (or worse by bursting the insect).
- Once you’ve got it out: Wash the bite area with soap and water then dab tea tree oil or isopropyl alcohol over bite (or any topical antiseptic). Wash your hands with soap and water.
- What happens if it broke off in your body? Try picking out any mouth parts left behind with a sterilized needle, parts will be near the surface of the flesh so there’s no need to dig deep. Be aware that this can cause infection if the needle isn’t sterilized properly, a doctor is the best bet for this if you aren’t confident.
- Did you get it all? It will still be moving around if it was done properly (not squished so hard it burst). Kill it by smashing between two hard surfaces.
When to see a doctor:
- If you can’t get it or the head or mouth parts are still embedded in the flesh.
- Bite victim develops a fever, nausea, sore muscles or stiffness, migraines or headaches, a bumpy, red rash appears or a red ring or “bulls eye” appears around the bite…these can indicate a tick borne illness. Symptoms can be delayed, watch over the next two weeks.
- If you know Lyme disease is in your area, contact your doctor.
If you want it tested:
- Save the insect (it’s actually an arachnid) in a sealed glass jar and refrigerate until you can get it tested (as soon as possible for best results). You can also put it in a zipped freezer bag and freeze.
- Note the date, time and location you believe it was picked up.
Advice on Home Remedies:
Some advise smothering the critter with Vaseline, liquid soap, nail polish, apply heat (with a just lit match, etc.), so it will back out on its own. These may or may not work but they can cause it to get stressed or aggravated and release more bacteria and saliva…quick removal with tweezers (or even glove covered hands) is the best bet.
A few tips:
- Wear long sleeves and light colored clothing when camping or hiking outdoors, they are easier to spot and brush off before they can attach/embed themselves. Apply insect repellent.
- While they’re happy to munch away on humans, they also feast on deer, dogs, cats, mice, (pretty much any mammal), birds and even some reptiles.
- Did You Know: Chances of contracting Lyme disease is greatly reduced if the bug is pulled out within 24 hours and it hasn’t had a chance to feast heavily yet.
- Some diseases they can carry: Lyme disease, Rocky Mounted Spotted Fever and Colorado tick fever.
- Did you know: If you are removing one from someone else’s body and it “pops” while you are pulling it out, you can get infected if you aren’t wearing gloves during the procedure and you have broken skin (under your nails, scratches on your finger, etc.).
- Regularly check your pets by brushing fur in the opposite direction of growth so you can see the skin. You’ll also likely feel the “bump” of one when it’s swollen if you brush with your hands.
Note: This is not professional medical advice, this is simply a list of information I’ve organized from my collection.