How do I remove a tick?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner
Tick removal must be performed immediately (within 24 hours on average) to avoid infection with the bacteria that causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) or Lyme disease. Tick removal must be performed very carefully to ensure that bacteria cannot escape from the tick. Remove the tick by pinching it near its mouth with tweezers and pull slowly and steadily. Afterward, sanitize your skin with alcohol or soap. You should watch for any signs or symptoms of RMSF in case you were not able to remove the tick before infection.
If you find a tick embedded in a person’s skin, it must be removed.
  • With a gloved hand, grasp the tick with fine-tipped and pointed tweezers that have a smooth inside surface. Get as close to the skin as possible. Pull slowly, steadily and firmly with no twisting.
  • Do not try to burn off the tick.
  • Do not apply petroleum jelly or nail polish to the tick.
  • Put the tick in a container or jar with rubbing alcohol to kill it.
  • Clean the bite area with soap and water, and an antiseptic.
  • Apply an antibiotic ointment if it is available and if the person has no known allergies or sensitivities to the medication.
  • Encourage the person to seek medical advice because of the risk of contracting a tick-borne disease.
  • If you cannot remove the tick, seek advanced medical care.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.