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How to remove ticks on humans

If you’ve ever camped or gone on a hike through the woods, you’ve probably been warned about ticks. While there are many things people can do to prevent tick bites or tick-borne illnesses, there’s definitely still a chance that you may get bitten by one. Luckily, we have tips on how to safely remove ticks on humans.

A person wearing rubber green medical gloves using tweezers to remove a tick off of a human.

Want tick control so you don’t have to worry about this biting pest in your yard? Contact us today!

How to remove a tick

Most tick removals can be done by yourself, but a professional can also remove the tick for you if necessary. To safely remove a tick on yourself at home, follow these steps:

First, grab your supplies.

  1. Fine-tipped tweezers

  2. Gloves

  3. A paper towel (PSA: Don’t handle a tick with your bare hands.)

Next, follow the instructions below.

  1. With your tweezers, grab the tick closest to its mouth - this is the part that is stuck in your skin. 

  2. Avoid grabbing the tick around its center. You’ll risk pushing infected saliva and blood into your body.

  3. Gently pull the tick straight up and out until its mouth lets go of your skin. DO NOT twist the tick when pulling it out.

  4. If you’re asked to identify the tick, put the tick in a sandwich bag and place it in the freezer.

  5. Once you have removed the tick, wash the bitten area well with warm soap and water. If you develop a rash, headache, joint pain, or flu-like symptoms within a few weeks after removing the tick, schedule an appointment with your doctor.

Close up of an enlarged tick in tweezers with a green background

What not to do when removing a tick

The best way to remove a tick on a human or on your pet is to follow the instructions listed above and remove the tick with tweezers. There are a lot of articles out there that list the steps to remove a tick, but you may not be aware of things you shouldn’t do when it comes to tick removal. Below are some common things people think of doing (usually in panic mode!), but that should actually be avoided.

  • Avoid crushing the tick between your fingers or fingernails. If you do, you could spread potentially infected blood and fluids on your hands. (Plus, it’s harder to salvage a crushed tick if you want to save it and bring it to your doctor for inspection and testing.)

  • Never squeeze the body of a tick as you remove it. You could accidentally separate the mouthparts and the body, leaving the head attached to the skin.

  • Don’t use fire, petroleum jelly, nail polish, or other chemicals to make the tick detach from the skin. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible and not have to wait for it to detach.

There are a lot of other tick-removal methods available online, but do they work? Let’s look at one of the most popular methods: vaseline.

Remove a tick with vaseline

Using vaseline is one of the most common tick-removal methods found online, however, it is not recommended. The idea behind this method is that the tick will back out of your skin when it becomes irritated by the vaseline. Unfortunately, it could take longer than 48 hours for the tick to detach, leaving you with a greater chance of getting an infection. The CDC strongly advises against this method, as you want to remove the tick as quickly as possible to avoid any health complications.

Doctor using blue and white tweezers to remove a tick from a human.

How to tell if the tick head is still in your skin

Sometimes when trying to remove this biting pest, the tick can break off and its mouthparts can become embedded in your skin. Once you have the tick in your tweezers, look at it. If its legs are still moving, then the tick’s head is still attached, and you were able to remove the whole tick successfully. 

Don’t panic if you weren’t able to remove it all. You can try to pull the head out like a splinter, but doctors do not recommend poking and prodding at your skin. You can risk a local infection by doing this and end up pushing more of the organism into your skin. Removing the head can help prevent an infection in the skin where you were bitten, but most of the time, your body will push it out if you cannot get it.

Irritated, red human skin with a tick latched on

Tick-borne illnesses

On average, a tick bite does not result in a trip to the hospital. Generally, most ticks don’t cause serious health problems. However, as stated above, it is important to remove it as soon as possible once you’ve found it. 

Doctor wearing a blue medical glove holding a blood sample labeled tick-borne virus.

With that being said, some ticks, such as the blacklegged tick and the Lone star tick, do carry diseases that can lead to health complications. The CDC has classified over 15 diseases these biting pests carry, including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. In 2019, state and local health departments reported 50,865 cases of tickborne disease to the CDC.

Prevent ticks with Ehrlich

There are a lot of preventative measures you can take to avoid tick bites on yourself and tick infestations on your property. Check out our tips here!

Our mosquito and tick control service is a perfect prevention method against ticks. Contact your local Ehrlich branch to learn about this service for your home. Our trained Technicians will relieve you of stress and you won’t need to worry about tick bites in your yard.

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Our new pricing tool can help you get a better estimated cost using a few factors like:

  • Location
  • Property size
  • Pest type
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