how to remove a tick

What to Do If You Find a Tick on You — How to Remove a Tick

Finding any sort of bug on your body is enough to make anybody squeamish. But finding a tick on your body may send you into full-on panic mode. The reason? Ticks can carry Lyme disease, which, when left untreated, can spread infection to the nervous system, heart, and joints. And with Lyme disease cases on the rise at an estimated 300,000 a year, it’s something worth worrying about.

But healthy worry is one thing; panic is unnecessary. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated with a few weeks of antibiotics. And often, you can remove a tick before Lyme disease even becomes a possibility.

Where Do Ticks Bite?

Ticks are sneaky little creatures, so it’s important to know what they’re looking for. Ticks gravitate toward warm, moist areas of the body. They’ll crawl across your body until they find a suitable place for a lunch — typically the armpits, groin, scalp, and behind the ears. A tick can stay on your body drawing blood for up to 10 days, before it detaches itself. That’s why it’s important to routinely inspect your body for ticks, especially if you’ve been outdoors or if you live near a wooded area. Tick bites don’t only happen on camping trips; many people in the Northeast are bitten by ticks in their own yards.

How to Remove a Tick

remove a tick

If you find the little intruder on your body, you’ll want to act fast — but carefully.

  • With a pair of fine-tipped tweezers, grasp the tick as closely to the skin as you can. Go under the mouth of the tick (the part that is embedded in the skin) as opposed to the body of the tick. Squeezing the body too hard may cause the tick to release its stomach contents into your skin.
  • With steady, even pressure, pull upward. Don’t jerk or twist the tick, as this can leave body parts behind.
  • Once the tick is removed, thoroughly clean the area (and your hands) with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
  • Don’t crush the tick with your fingers. Kill it by submerging it in alcohol and placing it in a sealed bag.

Do You Need to Save the Tick?

Maybe. Check the Lyme Map put out by the CDC or your state’s health department website to find out if you’re living in an area where Lyme disease is a problem. If not, you can rest assured that your risk of contracting Lyme disease is small. You can flush the tick down the toilet or wrap it up and dispose of it.

If you do live in an area where Lyme disease is a problem, save the tick in a sealed bag so it can be tested.

After a Tick Bite, Monitor Your Symptoms

You don’t necessarily need to rush off to the doctor as soon as you remove the tick from your body, but you do want to watch for symptoms of Lyme disease. If you develop any, get to the doctor immediately. Lyme disease can often be treated when caught early.

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?

  • A red spot or rash (it doesn’t necessarily have to look like a bull’s eye)
  • Neck stiffness
  • Full-body rash
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Weakness
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills

Keep ticks away with Deter Insect Repellent.