Remove a Tick Safely

To safely and correctly remove a tick:

Step 1: Grab or assemble your tick removal kit

This kit should include:

Pointed tweezers (or a Tick Key)

Or, you can use a Tick Key, which is specifically designed to remove ticks from both humans and pets, and can be easily attached to your key ring or any other similar fastener on your backpack or other gear.

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Alcohol Wipes

These are easy to carry with you no matter where you are, and will be used to disinfect the bite area after removing the tick.

Ziploc Bag

You will use the Ziploc bag to keep and preserve the tick should you want to send it out for testing at a lab.

Optional kit item: Magnifying Glass

Use this to better view the tick and ensure that you are pinching the tick as close to the skin as possible with the tweezers. You might also consider a reading magnifying glass that has an LED light for an even clearer view.

Step 2: Attach the Tweezers To the Tick

Slide the tweezers across and over the tick’s head or the area just above it. The key is to get as close to the skin as possible.

Step 3: Pull the Tick Straight Out

Using the tweezers, firmly, slowly, and steadily pull the tick straight out from the skin, taking care not to break the bug’s body.

Note: If the tick’s body detaches from its head, do not panic. Without its body, the tick’s head cannot transmit disease.

Step 4: Disinfect the Bite Area

Open an alcohol wipe and rub it on and around the tick bite area to disinfect the site.

Step 5: Seal the Tick In the Ziploc Bag

Different ticks carry different illnesses. It’s important to identify your tick so you know what you could be have been exposed to. As a reminder, only the blacklegged tick carries Lyme disease. TickSpotters provides free tick identification by email, usually within 24 hours, based on a quick photo of the tick that you upload on their website.

If you want to have the tick tested for pathogens, drop it into the Ziploc bag and seal it to preserve the bug until you can send it to a lab. For more information on testing, visit our Test A Tick page.

Step 6: Wash Your Hands With Soap and Water

Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water after removing the tick to minimize the risk of infection.

How NOT To Remove A Tick:

After seeing the correct tick removal process, you may be saying, “Why can I just grab the tick really close with my fingernails and twist it off?” or “Well, my uncle said to burn a tick off with a match” – or whatever other myth you have heard.

However, the steps outlined above are the safest and most effective way to remove the tick in the cleanest and quickest way possible.

If you find an attached tick, do not attempt to kill or make a tick detach with/by:

Nail polish

Only rubbing alcohol

(Note: While alcohol is a good disinfectant after removing the tick, it will not kill or cause the tick to detach quickly.)

Petroleum jelly

A match, cigarette, or other heat source

(Note: While this method may work for the American dog tick, it is ineffective for blacklegged ticks and lone star ticks. Plus, you risk burning the host’s skin – especially with tiny nymph ticks.)