Prefer to watch a video? This video from the University of Maine, based on information adapted from Maine CDC, explains how to remove a tick.
Tools for removing ticks:
How to Remove Ticks
Remove the tick immediately.
From the time a deer tick starts to feed 36 hours are usually required for the Lyme bacteria in its gut to multiply and migrate to its salivary glands to be injected into you.
A similar delay appears to be the case for anaplasmosis, another tick-borne disease now emerging in Northern New England.
A third deer-tick transmitted disease, babesiosis, has also begun to invade Maine. While no minimal time of attachment has been stated for its malaria-like parasite to be transmitted, little infection occurs within the first 40 hours of tick feeding.
There are a number of tick removal devices on the market, but a simple set of fine-tipped tweezers will work.
To remove a tick with tweezers:
Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible.
Pull upward with a steady, even pressure.
Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to separate and remain in the skin, prolonging inflammation and itching. Try to remove as much tick material as possible without increasing the wound.
To remove a tick with a notched spoon or remover (e.g. “Ticked Off” and “Pro-Tick Remedy”):
Place the notch tightly on the skin near the tick. It can be used from any direction—the front, back, or side of the tick.
Apply slight downward pressure to the skin and slide the spoon toward the tick so the notch is catches it as close to the skin as possible. Continue sliding the spoon forward to detach the tick. Do not pry or lift up.
If you have a fine line such as a fishing leader, you may be able to remove the tick by encircling its mouthparts with a tightened overhand loop.
Once the tick has detached, examine the bite site to make sure the mouthparts were completely removed.
Once removed, dispose of the tick by flushing it down the toilet or placing it in alcohol. Avoid crushing a tick with your fingers; you could be infected if the contents get into a cut, or your eye. Thoroughly clean the bite area, your hands, and whatever device you used with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
- Do not use petroleum jelly, a hot match, nail polish, or other folk remedies to remove ticks. These methods are simply not effective and in some instances may put you at risk of injury.
- If you experience a rash, headaches, fever and flu-like symptoms after a recent tick bite, see your healthcare provider right away.
Save the tick? If you do come down with an illness subsequently, knowing the exact date you were bitten by the tick, and seeing the tick itself may be valuable information for your physician. If you are quite sure it’s a dog tick (prevalent from May through July), there is no need to keep it. Otherwise, it is wise to preserve it in small pill bottle of alcohol, labeled with the date and time you removed it, to show it to your doctor if you become ill later..
People who have removed a tick often wonder if they should have it tested. As stated on the Centers for Disease Control Lyme website: "In general, testing of individual ticks is not useful because
- If the test shows that the tick contained disease-causing organisms, that does not necessarily mean that you have been infected.
- If you have been infected, you will probably develop symptoms before results of the tick test are available. You should not wait for tick testing results before beginning appropriate treatment.
- Tick testing is not 100% sensitive. Negative results can lead to false assurance."
- If you or your healthcare provider wants to know, however, here are places where you can get your tick identified and tested.