How Do I Safely Remove a Tick?

Ideally, you want to take as many precautions as possible to prevent being bitten by a tick, but once you’ve been bitten how you remove a tick properly is important. If you leave the tick head in your skin, you may develop an infection. Ticks can take up to four hours to completely attach, and so checking as soon as you return home may help you avoid having a tick fully attach. Here are a few ways you can remove a tick safely.

Use Tweezers to Remove a Tick

The most common way to safely remove a tick is to use tweezers. Grasp the tick close to the head and gently pull out. Do this slowly so that the head does not stay attached. Once the tick is removed you can kill it by putting it on a cotton ball with alcohol on it. You need to clean the area that the tick bit you with alcohol. If part of the head is left behind, try to grasp it with the tweezer and pull back again so that it detaches. If you cannot remove it completely, you should visit your doctor who can remove it for you.

Use a Tick Key

A tick key is a great tool that makes removing a tick much easier. It can also help with seed ticks that may be so small that they are hard to grasp with tweezers. You can buy a tick key at most outdoor stores or online. The tick key will have a hole in it. You press the tick key to your skin with the tick inside of the hold and then pull back slowly. This will lift the tick completely and is easier than using tweezers.

Do Not Take These Steps

There are definite wrong ways to remove a tick that you may read about because people used to do them. Here are things you should never do to remove a tick.

  • Use a hot match to make it let go. This does not work, and make the tick regurgitate into you and increase your chance of getting an infection.
  • Apply petroleum jelly or nail polish to the tick to make it let go on its own. This method takes too long, and you want to remove the tick as quickly as possible.
  • Twisting the tick off. When you see a twisting motion, you are increasing the chance of leaving the head attached which can lead to infection.