If you find a tick on your body, don't be alarmed. If you remove the tick within 24 hours of its attachment, it's unlikely you'll get ehrlichiosis or other tick-borne illnesses. Follow these steps for safe removal of ticks:
July 11, 2015
- Use tweezers if possible. Use a pair of flat-tipped tweezers or cover your hand with a tissue or glove to remove a tick. A tick's saliva and bodily fluids can carry the same bacterium that's found in its mouth and the bacterium can enter your body through cuts or mucous membranes in your skin.
Remove the tick slowly. Grab the tick by its mouth parts where it has attached to your skin. Pull it up and out of your skin steadily and slowly without jerking or twisting it.
If you pull too quickly or grab the tick by its body, the tick will likely separate, leaving the mouth parts in your skin. If the tick's mouth parts do break off in your skin, remove them with tweezers.
Petroleum jelly and hot matches are not effective treatments for removing ticks or tick parts from your skin. These methods may make matters worse by triggering the tick to release more of its bodily fluids, and that could cause further infection.
Kill the tick. Once you have successfully removed the tick, kill it by placing it in a container with rubbing alcohol in it. Don't crush the tick in your hands or with your fingernails because the fluids it releases may contain infected bacteria.
If you want to save the tick for testing in the event you become ill, put it in a plastic bag or a jar, date the container and place it in the freezer.
- Clean the bite site. Wash the bite site thoroughly with hand antiseptic or soap and water. And, thoroughly wash your hands.
Monitor the bite site. In the following days and weeks, watch the bite site for a rash and pay close attention to any signs and symptoms that develop such as fever, muscle aches or joint pain.
If you notice anything out of the ordinary, see your doctor. If possible, bring the tick with you to your appointment.
- Tickborne diseases of the United States — A reference manual for health care providers. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/healthcare/clinicians.html. Accessed June 10, 2015.
- Sexton DJ. Human ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 10, 2015.
- Ferri FF. Ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2016. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2016. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed June 10, 2015.
- Papadakis MA, et al., eds. Viral & rickettsial infections. In: Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2015. 54th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2015. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed June 10, 2015.
- Lyme disease. American Lyme Disease Foundation. http://aldf.com/lyme-disease/#prevent. Accessed June 20, 2015.
- Preventing tick bites. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/prev/index.html. Accessed June 10, 2015.