How do I remove a tick?

The sooner you find and remove a tick, the better the chances that you will reduce the risk of tick-borne infection as well as irritation or other health-related problems. Grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible, and pull it directly out. There’s no need to twist it. Do not use matches or other hot items, and do not cover the tick with oils or other such substances. Any effort other than pulling out the tick  simply delays removal and adds to risk. Removing the tick may require slightly more force than you’d imagine. A fine-tipped forceps is an ideal tool for this purpose, but you can also use specialized devices that are sold in pharmacies and camping stores. You can even use your fingers, but it would be wise to wear a protective glove, or even use a plastic bag or wrap to protect your fingers should you cause the tick to rupture in the process.  

Save the tick so that it can be properly identified (and tested if needed). Wash the skin with soap and water, and contact your physician for other advice. The mouthparts of some kinds of ticks may be so well embedded or cemented in the skin that the mouthparts break and remain in the skin. This is rarely a concern. Those mouthparts are rarely more of concern than are superficial splinters. As such, they usually will fall out within a few days as the older layers of skin are shed. Again, consult with your physician for specific advice or if you have concerns.

We'd like to thank one of our Contributors, Dr. Glen Needham at Ohio State University and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources - Wildlife Division for this video clip illustrating proper tick removal technique using tweezers:

CDC tick removal instructions

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