How To Safely Remove An Embedded Tick
Did you just find a tick on yourself or a loved one? TickCheck can test your tick and determine whether it carries the bacteria that transmit Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections.
If you discover a tick on yourself or a loved one, it's important to remain calm and properly remove it immediately. Ticks that are not attached can be removed by hand, but ticks that have embedded themselves into the skin to feed can be removed carefully using the techniques described here.
- Grasp nearest to the head as possible with sharp tweezers or a tick remover.
- Pull straight out with a steady, even pressure. Do not squeeze or twist the body—this could cause the tick to expel its contents into your bloodstream. Do not cover the tick in soap, alcohol, or any other substance, as this may iritate the tick and also provoke it to expel its contents. See the diagram below for an example of the proper way to remove a tick.
- Clean the area with an alcohol swab.
- Save tick for identification and testing if desired.
- Watch the affected area for signs of infection.
- Initial redness and swelling is common and attributed to the body’s reaction to enzymes in the saliva of the tick. If a rash appears, or the area becomes tender or painful, this could be a sign of infection and medical attention should be sought.
Graphic credit: CDC
DO NOT burn the tick, cover the tick with Vaseline or nail polish remover, or squeeze the tick's body. These could increase the chance of pathogen transmission from tick to host.
Once the tick has been removed, steps should be taken to ensure that a tick-borne disease has not been transferred. Monitor the bitten area for several weeks for signs of infection, such as the "bull's-eye" rash signature of Lyme disease.
You can also send your tick to the TickCheck Laboratory, where we can determine if your tick is a carrier of common tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease, Anaplasma, and Babesia within 48 hours or less.
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