Los Angeles County West Vector & Vector-Borne Disease Control District

Tick Removal

What is the best way to remove a tick?


To remove attached ticks, use the following procedure:
1. Use fine-tipped tweezers or shield your fingers with a tissue, paper towel, or rubber gloves.

2. Grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible and pull upward with steady, even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick; this may cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin.  (If this happens, remove mouthparts with tweezers.  Consult your healthcare provider if infection occurs.)

        Tick removal diagram                Tick removal diagram

 

  Tick removal   

3. Do not squeeze, crush, or puncture the body of the tick because its fluids (saliva, hemolymph, gut contents) may contain infectious organisms.

4. Do not handle the tick with bare hands because infectious agents may enter through mucous membranes or breaks in the skin. This precaution is particularly directed to individuals who remove ticks from domestic animals with unprotected fingers. Children, the elderly, and immunocompromised persons may be at greater risk of infection and should avoid this procedure. 

5. After removing the tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite site and wash your hands with soap and water.

6. You may wish to save the tick for identification in case you become ill within 2 to 3 weeks. Your doctor can use the information to assist in making an accurate diagnosis. Place the tick, along with several blades of grass, into a small container (e.g. a clean screw-cap pill bottle or a zip-lock bag) for later examination. Write the date of the bite on a piece of paper with a pencil and place it in the bag.

Note:  Folklore remedies such as petroleum jelly or hot matches do little to encourage a tick to detach from skin. In fact, they may make matters worse by irritating the tick and stimulating it to release additional saliva, increasing the chances of transmitting the pathogen. These methods of tick removal should be avoided. In addition, a number of tick removal devices have been marketed, but none are better than a plain set of fine tipped tweezers.

 

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