Easy Ways to Remove Ticks
Getting bit by a tick can be an unpleasant event, that in the worst case leads to complications. In this post, I dive into the best tick removal steps.
So, can I remove ticks at home?
Short answer: yes. While medical treatment may be needed in event of complications, you can perform a tick removal by yourself. Remove it ASAP after identification, to reduce infection chances.
- Supplies: you will need pointy tweezers (specifically) and rubbing alcohol. Firstly, disinfect the area with an alcohol swab.
- Take your tweezers and grab the tick as close as possible to its head, slowly pulling upwards (NO jerking). Clean the bite once again.
- Tell your doctor you were bitten. You will need to monitor for complications like Tick Borne Disease (Lyme Disease) after a tick bite. You can test the tick too to confirm what it carried.
- Watch carefully for any symptoms: like chills, bullseye rash, muscle pain or fever. You may need to go on antibiotics or receive treatments/medications to prevent any complications.
Does Tick Removal Require a Tool?
The only item required for tick removal is a pointy tweezer.
Tick removal does not require any fancy tools. However, note that you will need to use a specific type of tweezer for this purpose. The typical tweezer used to, say, pluck your eyebrows will not suffice for this purpose.
You must use what is known as a “pointy tweezer”.
Remove the tick as soon as possible after noticing it, as infection likelihood increases after 24-48 hours of the tick being attached.
Stay calm, but don’t delay.
NOTE: do NOT use petroleum jelly or any other form of removal to kill the tick, like a match or alcohol etc. This will NOT result in removal, and will likely push the tick deeper. You must extract the tick as described.
Here are the tick removal steps:
- Supplies you will need: rubbing alcohol and a pair of pointy tweezers. Soap and water is also an option if you do not have any on hand. After grabbing your tools, get ready to remove the tick with the below steps.
- Ensure the area is clean by disinfecting with rubbing alcohol. You can use a swab.
- Take your tweezers and push them right to the skin as close as you can, then grab as closely as you are able to the tick’s head - getting ready to pull it.
- Once secured, make sure you do NOT jerk. Pull slowly and firmly, and do not twist. Try to use an upward motion, and gently pull the tick out.
- After completing the tick removal steps, disinfect the area once more with rubbing alcohol.
Aim to get everything with the tweezers, but do not worry too much if the head of the tick partially breaks as you conduct removal.
What To Do After Removal
After completing the tick removal steps and extraction, you have a number of options.
There are a few very important things to do after removal: including keeping a careful watch for potential complications.
We go into these more in depth below, but first I will outline some simple actions for you to consider after you have successfully extracted the tick.
So, what to do with the tick firstly?
Your options are:
Testing the tick
There are a number of reasons you may want to send a tick to be tested. This can be especially critical if you want to be vigilant about tick borne disease, and would like to know what potential things the tick could be a carrier of.
You will then be able to confirm if you begin experiencing any symptoms.
Your doctor may also want to see the tick.
- Keep the tick in a sealed container. To keep the it alive, leave a piece of nature such as a grass stem.
- You can find tick testing companies, even by simply conducting a quick google search. But if you get stuck, consult your doctor and they will assist.
Dispose of the tick
If you don’t wish to test it, you can simply discard the tick. However, where possible testing is strongly recommended for the reasons mentioned both above and below.
NOTE: do NOT kill the tick by crushing it with your hands/fingers. This is a means of contracting disease, as described.
Proper methods of disposal are:
- Drowning the tick in water and soap or alcohol
- Wrapping it securely in tape, before disposing in the bin.
- Flushing it down the toilet.
What can happen after a tick bite?
Immediately after being bitten and following the tick removal steps, you should notify your doctor that you have had a tick bite. You may need medication, outlined in the next point below.
Let them know:
- How long ago it happened
- Where it could have happened
- If you notice absolutely ANY signs/symptoms.
It is very important to take the bite seriously, because tick bites can result in some potentially nasty and ongoing complications - such as Tick Borne Disease.
- Ticks can be carriers of a variety of diseases, and one condition that can arise after a tick bite is Lyme Disease.
- Lyme Disease can be a very serious condition: and if improperly treated it can even become chronic and ongoing, leading to long term debilitation.
What symptoms should I watch out for?
When to be concerned/call a doctor:
Seek help if you notice any of the following symptoms. They may be indicative of tick borne disease.
- Muscle pain/aching
- Rashes (most specifically a certain type called a bullseye rash, but observe any and all changes. A bullseye rash is one of the first indicators of Lyme Disease.)
- Flu-like symptoms
- Swollen or painful joints
- Paralysed facial muscles
What Medications Do I Need After the Removal?
After you have followed the tick removal steps, your doctor may want to discuss further strategies.
- Particularly in the case of high risk/carrier ticks, or prolonged tick attachment prior to the tick removal steps being carried out, a course of antibiotics may be the best option.
- If the individual is considered at high risk of Lyme disease, doxycycline (an antibiotic that is effective in treating tick borne bacteria) may be prescribed.
- Course length/dose can vary per person or case.
It is best to be very careful about Lyme Disease, even if you do not see a cause for concern immediately or notice serious symptoms presenting.
There is speculation that it may be difficult to treat Lyme once it sets in: and for this reason prompt and immediate treatment with antibiotics is recommended in a high risk scenario (ideally within about 72 hours of the tick bite occurring.)
If you notice any symptoms at all presenting, you should immediately begin antibiotics under supervision of a doctor.
Further treatments may be suggested if needed. Avoid waiting for Lyme to develop before treating it.
How to Prevent Subsequent Tick Bites?
Keep your skin clothed in high tick areas.
To prevent being bitten, to the best you can to cover as much of your body as possible when outdoors in highly tick infested areas.
Long sleeved clothing, large/wide hats and long pants are some possible items.
You can tuck your pants into your socks to further cover bare skin.
Brushing clothes and examining for ticks
- Prior to re-entering your space or home after being outdoors, ensure you brush off your clothes to try to dislodge any ticks that could have sneakily attached.
- You can also examine clothes to see if any are visible.
- Always examine yourself too. Check your skin and make sure you have nothing attached. As mentioned before, the longer it stays the higher the risk.
- Another method is putting clothing into a really hot dryer, in order to kill anything that could be attached.
Steer away from tick infested areas/thick bushes and grass
Try to avoid wandering in areas with long grass and lots of bushes, or that are known to be tick infested/have high amounts.
You can wear repellent on both your skin or clothes - there is even a certain type available to put on clothing (containing permethrin) in order to deter ticks.
Will I always feel a tick bite? No. In fact, a lot of the time tick bites may be entirely painless. This is why it is very important to properly monitor/examine yourself for ticks, including your clothing - and follow the tick removal steps instantly.
How long can it take for symptoms to begin developing post bite? Symptoms may present from 2 to 32 days after the bite. Length will depend on a variety of factors. You should keep a careful watch all throughout this period.
Tick bites can be painless and should be attended to as promptly as possible to prevent further complication: due to risk of serious consequences developing.
However, if you properly follow these tick removal steps and make use of future prevention strategies, you will greatly minimise the likelihood of issues.