Tick Removal

Tick's mouthparts have reverse harpoon-like barbs, designed to penetrate and attach to skin. Ticks secrete a cement-like substance that helps them adhere firmly to the host. If you find that you or your pet has been bitten by a tick, it is important to remove it properly.

Tick Removal Procedure:

    1) Use fine-point tweezers to grasp the tick at the place of attachment, as close to the skin as possible.
    2) Gently pull the tick straight out.
    3) Place the tick in a small vial labeled with the victim's name, address and the date.
    4) Wash your hands, disinfect the tweezers and bite site.
    5) Mark your calendar with the victim's name, place of tick attachment on the body, and general health at the time.
    6) Call your doctor to determine if treatment is warranted.
    7) Watch the tick-bite site and your general health for signs or symptoms of a tick-borne illness. Make sure you mark any changes in your health status on your calendar.
    8) If possible, have the tick identified/tested by a lab, your local health department, or veterinarian.

If the mouthparts break off in the skin - should I dig them out?

We have heard two competing opinions about this.

One viewpoint states that the mouthparts can cause a secondary infection, and should be removed as if it was a splinter.

Another viewpoint was shared with us by a pediatrician in a hyperendemic area. He states that parents can do more harm by trying to hold down a child and dig out the mouthparts with a needle. He instructs his families to leave the mouthparts, and that they will come out on their own as the skin sloughs off.

CAUTIONS:

  • Children should be taught to seek adult help for tick removal.
  • If you must remove the tick with your fingers, use a tissue or leaf to avoid contact with infected tick fluids.
  • Do not prick, crush or burn the tick as it may release infected fluids or tissue.
  • Do not try to smother the tick (e.g. petroleum jelly, nail polish) as the tick has enough oxygen to complete the feeding.

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