Tick Removal

The Best Way to Remove a Tick


A number of tick removal devices have been marketed, but none are better than a plain set of fine tipped tweezers.

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. 

Tick Removal Procedure

gloved hand with tweezers


Use fine-tipped tweezers or shield your fingers with a tissue, paper towel, or rubber gloves.


pull tick up with tweezers


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.

do not squeeze or crush tick


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

do not handle with bare hands


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.

wash the bite site


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


save tick in a jar


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.