Four-legged, blood-feeding and disease-causing agents, ticks are an external parasite of mammals, birds, and reptiles. They primarily thrive in warm and highly vegetated areas.
These parasites grab firmly to their host, feed slowly on blood and can go unnoticed for several days while feeding. As a result, they transmit the widest variety of pathogens of any blood-sucking insects.
Therefore, it is important to check for ticks and remove them as soon as you discover them, lest you may develop diseases like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever or ehrlichiosis.
While most ticks do not pose a serious health issue or carry diseases, their bites may cause irritation and allergic reactions in the skin. (1)
Ways to Safely Remove a Tick
Tick removal must be done with great care to minimize any chance of infection. Here are the two most efficient tick-removal techniques that may help you get rid of ticks without any pain.
Method 1: Use Tweezers
Pulling a tick out is probably one of the best methods for removing one from your skin. (2)
Single Step Treatment - Pull out the tick using tweezers
Using a pair of fine-tipped tweezers, grab the tick as close to its mouth as you can. The body of the tick will be above your skin, but make sure you do not hold the tick around its belly as this could push the infected fluid from the tick right into your body.
Alternatively, if you do not have tweezers, you can use your fingers to pluck out the tick. However, do not handle the tick with bare hands. Put on a glove or cover your hand with a paper towel.
Gently pull the tick straight out until it completely comes off your skin. Do not twist while pulling, as this may break off the body of the tick, leaving its head in your skin.
Once the tick is removed, wash the area thoroughly with warm water and soap. If needed, use an antibiotic ointment on the bitten area.
Method 2: Use Dish Soap
A concentrated solution of dish soap will choke the tick, restricting its air passage so it will come off your skin easily.
Things you’ll need:
- Dish soap
- Cotton ball
Step 1. Soak a cotton ball in dish soap and swab the tick
- Soak a cotton ball in liquid dish soap.
- Use the soapy cotton ball to swab the tick several times. Hold the cotton ball lightly on the top so that it slightly touches the tick.
- Within 15 to 20 seconds, the tick will dislodge itself from your skin. Grab it with the cotton ball and properly dispose of it.
Step 2. Wipe away any dish soap residue
- Soak a towel in water and wring out any excess water.
- Pat the towel on your skin and wipe away any residue of the dish soap.
Tips to remember
- If you develop a rash or fever within 2 weeks of removing a tick, consult your doctor. Tell your doctor every single detail about your recent tick, such as when and where the bite occurred.
- If your pet has been outdoors in highly vegetated areas, check your pet thoroughly for ticks upon returning home.
- To deter ticks from using your pet as a host, you can treat them with pet-safe anti-tick sprays, shampoos, dips or powders from your local pet store.
- Once in a while, thoroughly clean your house. Vacuuming is particularly helpful in removing ticks in the house, including their eggs. Clean everything from carpets to cushions to pillows to the sofa to drawers and cabinets, everything including your car.
- Wash your linens and every other washable item in hot water.
- Discard items that are no longer in use at your place. Storage of non-usable stock could possibly become a home for ticks to lay their eggs.
- Sudhindra P. Tick-Borne Infections of the Central Nervous System. ScienceDirect. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B978012813806900010X. Published March 9, 2018.
- Tick Removal | Ticks | CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/removing_a_tick.html.