How to Safely Remove a Tick
Finding a tick on you or your pet is an experience you won't soon forget. One moment you're enjoying nature with your best friend, and the next you're panicking as you try to pry a parasite off your skin. It might be scary and gross but thankfully most tick bites are relatively harmless. However, in some cases, the bite of these small blood-sucking arachnids can be more serious, resulting in a number of complications.
Ticks can stay attached for days, even weeks, before you take notice. And the longer a tick stays attached to you or your pet, the more severe the bite reaction tends to be (ticks removed within 36 hours rarely cause problems). In other words, if you or your pet gets bitten by a tick, you need to remove it as soon as possible.
The next time you or a loved one experiences a tick bite, here’s what you need to do:
HOW TO CHECK FOR TICKS
Hiking, camping, walking your dog—any outdoor activity, especially those in or around tall grass, can leave you with a tick bite. That's why it’s always important to check both you and your pet for ticks after engaging in any activity that might have exposed you to these parasites.
Ranging from the size of a pinhead to 2/3 of an inch, ticks can be brown or red, even white or blue-green (especially after feeding). Ticks can easily go unnoticed, so take your time and be thorough when checking for ticks.FOR PETS:
Slowly brush your fingers through their fur, looking for any unusual bumps or lumps on or near the skin. Ticks particularly enjoy hiding in dark, warm locations, so be sure to check on and within your pet’s’ ears, between toes, under armpits, and under or near their tail.FOR PEOPLE:
Pay close attention to these areas: armpits, ears, belly button, scalp, around the waist, backs of knees, crotch, thighs, and in between toes and fingers.
GET THE PROPER EQUIPMENT
- Latex gloves
- Pointed-tip tweezers
- Rubbing alcohol
- A Ziplock bag
- Soap and water
As a safety precaution, we strongly suggest wearing gloves when removing a tick. It’s not uncommon (though it should be avoided) for the parasite to become damaged, spilling blood and other fluids in the process, so it's always a good idea to have gloves at the ready when you're in tick country, just in case.
REMOVE THE TICK
There are countless myths and old wives’ tales concerning how to remove a tick—some involve burning the parasite with a match, others advocate suffocation with solutions like alcohol and even peanut butter. However, most of these tips are incorrect and, if used, can actually lead to additional problems and complications. Instead, follow these simple steps to properly and safely remove a tick (the process is the same for both animals and humans):
- Using pointed tweezers, grab the tick as close to the skin surface as possible; this usually means grabbing the tick by its mouthparts. Avoid squeezing or damaging the tick in any way—when harmed or irritated, ticks can expel bodily fluids into the bloodstream of their hosts.
- Slowly and carefully pull directly upward. Do not twist or yank the tick. With steady pressure, you should be able to remove the entire tick intact.
- If the tick’s mouthparts break off in the skin, attempt to carefully remove them. If this cannot be done easily, stop trying and leave them inside. Monitor the site and consult a medical professional if you spot any troubling signs or symptoms.
- After removal, thoroughly clean and disinfect the bite site with soap and water or rubbing alcohol.
- Place the removed tick in a ziplock bag; it will eventually suffocate and die. You may wish to save the tick for up to two weeks—in the event you or your pet begin showing signs of complications, you may want to have the tick identified or tested.
- Over the next two weeks, observe the bite site for any signs or symptoms, such as rashes, swelling, tenderness or redness. Consult a medical professional if anything develops.
- If you begin experiencing flu-like symptoms shortly after removing a tick (3-14 days), consult a medical professional immediately.
PREVENT FUTURE TICK BITES
Prevention is always the best method for avoiding ticks and their bites. Before you and your pet engage in outdoor activities, protect yourselves with Cedarcide Original bug spray or deep-woods strength Tickshield. To control ticks near your home, apply Outdoor Bug Control to your lawn and shrubbery monthly starting in early spring through late fall.