Ticks and Tickborne Diseases

Tick Removal

Because ticks do not transmit disease until they have been attached to the host for several hours, it is very important to remove ticks as soon as they are found.

The best way to remove a tick is to grasp it with tweezers as close to the skin as possible and gently, but firmly, pull it straight out. Avoid any twisting or jerking motion that may break off the mouth parts in the skin. Mouth parts left in the wound will not transmit the disease, but may cause a minor infection, similar to a splinter.

If tweezers are not available, protect your fingers with gloves, tissue, or a paper towel. Do not touch the tick with bare fingers. The disease-causing organism can enter the body through a break in the skin on your fingers and cause disease.

After the tick has been removed, wash your hands with soap and water. Apply an antiseptic, such as alcohol or iodine, to the bite site.

Dispose of the tick by drowning it in alcohol or flushing it down a drain or toilet.

Tick removal using nail polish, petroleum jelly, alcohol, or a hot match is not safe.

If you get sick and you have been exposed to ticks, be sure to tell your doctor about your tick exposure.