How to remove a tick

Photo: Fairfax County

Wilderness First Aid

Learn how to remove a tick. Spending time outdoors is something we all enjoy doing. But, part of nature is ticks; and knowing what to do if you or your pet suffers a tick bite may save you a visit to the hospital. In the event you find a tick attached to you or your pet, follow these steps for removing a tick. .

Tick Removal Step by Step

1) With fine-tipped sterile tweezers, grasp the tick right next to the skin’s surface. Avoid grabbing it by its midsection as you don’t want to squeeze it and cause it to secrete pathogens.

2) Pull with a steady even pressure. Do not twist or jerk as you don’t want the mouthparts to break and remain attached to the skin. If that does happens, carefully try again with the tweezers.

3) Once the tick is removed, thoroughly wash the bite area and your hands with soap and water, iodine soap and/or rubbing alcohol.  

4) Remember the best way to remove a tick is to take the proper prevention steps to avoid tick bites in the first place.

What do after removing a tick from you or your dog?

This is one of the biggest and most common mistakes made by hikers who suffer tick bites, DON’T throw your tick away! Save the tick to show your doctor in the event of disease transmission. On the trail you can wrap it tightly in duct tape, then once you arrive home preserve it in a small container of rubbing alcohol. Once it is safely preserved in rubbing alcohol we recommend trying to identify the tick.

Tick Diseases

Contact your healthcare provider if you develop a rash or fever within a few weeks after after the tick bite. Be sure to show your healthcare provider the preserved tick and make sure you tell them where you were when the bite happened, and roughly how long it may have been attached before you noticed. A tick bite can transmit Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and a variety of other tick diseases that can be fatal to either you or your pet if left untreated.

Avoid folklore tick bite remedies

Do not crush the tick the between your fingers!

Do not handle tick with your bare hands!

Do not use sharp forceps!

Do not apply heat, it will cause tick to secrete bodily fluids into you!

Do not apply apply random substances such as petroleum jelly, stove fuel, ketchup packets or anything else you may have in your pack.