How To Remove A Tick: {Instructions & Tips}

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.

Finger*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.

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What Readers Are Saying: 14 Comments
  1. Aileen says:

    Tea Tree oil will dry a tick up and it will just fall out. Works well on dogs too. Just dab some on a cotton ball and place on the tick.

    • Skaila says:

      I am literally about to go try this! Wish me luck!

    • Cole says:

      Some liquid soap (non foaming) on a cotton ball works wonders too. It smothers the tick and will back out of hte sick on its own. Then we kill it.

    • River says:

      I’m worried that the dish soap and tea tree oil will cause the tick to throw up, release saliva, etc. causing you to get any diseases the tick has. Maybe you should ask your doctor before doing this?

      • Lights says:

        This is true, Using tea tree oil, Petroleum jelly (Vaseline), Dish soap, burning it with a match, nail polish etc can make the tick throw up in your skin and even more bacteria goes in, So there’s more chances of getting Lyme Disease,Rocky

      • Lights says:

        This is true, Using tea tree oil, Petroleum jelly (Vaseline), Dish soap, burning it with a match, nail polish etc can make the tick throw up in your skin and even more bacteria goes in, So there’s more chances of getting Lyme Disease,Rocky mountain disease and other disease’s found in animals. – Nurse

  2. Skaila says:

    I discovered a tick on my puppy a few minutes ago and panicked before trying to remove it! It would not budge, and my pup wouldn’t stop squirming! I hope these tricks work, before I lose my mind!

  3. Carolyn says:

    It is also a good idea to place that tick in a ziplock bag, write the person’s name and the date removed on it. Place the bag in the freezer (do not mash it as freezing it will not only kill it, but will preserve it. Now, if this person gets sick in the next couple of weeks, you have the tick to help verify or rule out such diseases as lyme’s disease, tick fever, rocky moutain fever.

  4. Chantal says:

    My aunt had a special little device that was essentially a pair of modified tweezers, with the ends angled like . The instructions said to grip the tick as close to the skin as possible and twist counter-clockwise, because a tick burrows its mouth in clockwise. She used it all the time on her farm, and it worked great.

  5. Mark Crawley says:

    Rubbing the body of a tick in 1 direction as if to make it dizzy works a treat read it on Internet and gave it a go before I was about to take dog to vet it took less than 30secs and the tick for whatever reason backs out as I said just move the ticks body in a circular motion say clockwise for upto a minute .. Trust me it works!!

  6. Nina says:

    i went to the doctors to et a tick removed as we were very close to it when i found it and the used a sort of modified tweezers to remove it. he said that you should twist it and not to pull it out or use tweezers as it can upset the tick and could cause it to through up and you could end up with lime disease.

  7. Kez says:

    Hi, I found what I thought was a burrowed in tick on my dogs head, because i couldn’t see any head. I tried to soak it with dishwashing liquid and I thought I noticed, even before I tried to grab it, that it started to turn red. Does that happen to an aggravated tick? Or maybe it is a hanging mole and I did affect it by just the rubbing of dishwashing liquid on it. Can someone help me out here. I cant really afford a vet, especially if it is just a mole. Do ticks react by sucking more blood when they are upset by soap?

  8. tammy says:

    what happens if you are trying to remove a tick and you end up leaving the head? How do you remove the head? Is the head still alive after you remove the body?Or is it still alive and will it keep feeding?

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