How to remove a tick and prevent future
September 19, 2017
American Academy of Dermatology
populations grow and spread across the country, their prevalence is increasing
the public’s risk for some troubling diseases. Of these diseases, say
dermatologists, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Powassan virus and
alpha-gal syndrome — a mysterious red meat allergy — are among the most
As tick populations grow
and spread across the country, their prevalence is increasing the public’s risk
for some troubling diseases. Of these diseases, say dermatologists from the
American Academy of Dermatology, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever,
Powassan virus and alpha-gal syndrome — a mysterious red meat allergy — are
among the most serious.
“Although most ticks
do not carry disease, it’s important to be mindful of these risks and keep an
eye out while you’re outdoors,” said board-certified dermatologist Lindsay
Strowd, MD, FAAD, an assistant professor of dermatology at Wake Forest Baptist
Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. “If you notice a tick
crawling on you or attached to your skin, remove it immediately to prevent any
To remove a tick that is
attached to your skin, Dr. Strowd recommends the following tips:
1. Use tweezers to remove
Sterilize the tip of the tweezers using rubbing alcohol and grasp the tick as
close to the skin’s surface as possible.
2. Pull upward with steady,
even pressure. Avoid twisting, squeezing or crushing the tick, as this
can cause its head or mouth to break off and remain in your skin. If this
happens, use tweezers to remove the remaining parts. If you cannot remove the
rest of the tick, see a board-certified dermatologist.
3. Dispose of the tick. Place it in a sealed
bag or container; submerse the tick in alcohol; or wrap it tightly in tape. You
may also want to save the tick in a sealed jar. That way, if you develop any
symptoms after the bite, the tick can be tested for disease.
4. Clean the bite area with
soap and water.
“Although ticks can
bite at any time, they’re most active in April through September,” said
Dr. Strowd. “Fortunately, there are many things people can do to protect
themselves and their families against ticks.”
To prevent tick bites,
Dr. Strowd recommends the following tips:
1. Walk in the center of
Avoid walking through heavily wooded and brushy areas with tall grass.
2. If you must walk through
heavily wooded areas, wear long pants and long sleeves. Pull your socks up over
your pants, and tuck your shirt into your pants to prevent ticks from crawling
up your body. It’s also a good idea to wear light-colored clothes so that ticks
can be spotted easily.
3. Use insect repellent that
contains 20 to 30 percent DEET on exposed skin and clothing. Make sure to follow the
product instructions. Parents should apply this product to their children,
making sure to avoid the hands, eyes and mouth.
4. Examine your skin after
spending time in heavily wooded or brushy areas. Conduct a full-body tick
check to make sure that no ticks are crawling on you. Since ticks prefer warm,
moist areas, be sure to check your armpits, groin and hair. You should also
check your children and pets, as well as any gear you used outside.
“If you develop any
symptoms within a few weeks after a tick bite, such as a rash, fever or body
aches, see a board-certified dermatologist,” said Dr. Strowd. “Make
sure you tell the doctor about your recent tick bite, when the bite occurred
and where you most likely acquired the tick.”