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Tick removal


If a tick is found attached to the body, seek assistance from medical authorities for proper removal, or follow these guidelines.

(1) Grasp the ticks' mouthparts against the skin, using pointed tweezers (See Figure 2).

(2) Pull back slowly and steadily with firm tension.

(a) Pull in the reverse of the direction in which the mouthparts are inserted, as you would for a splinter.

(b) BE PATIENT -- The long, central mouthpart (called the hypostome) is inserted in the skin. It is covered with sharp barbs, sometimes making removal difficult and time consuming (see Figure 3, inset).

(c) Most hard ticks secrete a cement-like substance during feeding. This material helps secure their mouthparts firmly in the flesh and adds to the difficulty of removal.

(d) It is important to continue to pull steadily until the tick can be eased out of the skin (see Figure 3).

(e) DO NOT pull back abruptly, as this may tear the mouthparts from the body of the tick, leaving them embedded in the skin. If this happens, do not panic. Embedded mouthparts are comparable to having a splinter in your skin. However, to prevent the chance of secondary infection, it is best to remove them. Seek medical assistance if necessary.

(f) DO NOT squeeze or crush the body of the tick because this may force infective body fluids through the mouthparts and into the wound.

(g) DO NOT apply substances such as petroleum jelly, finger nail polish, finger nail polish remover, repellents, pesticides, or a lighted match to the tick while it is attached. These materials are either ineffective, or worse, might agitate the tick and cause it to salivate or regurgitate infective fluid into the wound site.

(3) If, and only if, tweezers are not available, grasp the ticks' mouthparts between your fingernails and remove the tick carefully by hand being sure not to squeeze the body of the tick. Be sure to wash your hands and under your fingernails to prevent possible contamination by infective material from the tick.

2. Following removal of the tick, wash the wound (and your hands) with soap and water, and apply an antiseptic.

3. Save the tick in a jar, vial, small plastic bag, or other container for identification should you later develop disease symptoms. Preserve the tick by either adding some alcohol to the jar or by keeping it in the freezer. Storing a tick in water will not preserve it. Identification of the tick may help the physician make diagnostic and treatment decisions as many tick-borne diseases are transmitted only by certain species.

4. Discard the tick after one month; all known tick-borne diseases will generally cause symptoms within this time period.