Removing ticks: The right way and the wrong way

Removing ticks: The right way and the wrong way

Tick season is here! While most tick bites are harmless, some ticks can carry diseases, such as Lyme disease. Knowing what steps to take following a tick bite can reduce your risk of infection.

Remove the embedded tick as soon as possible. The longer a tick is attached, the higher the risk of transmitting tick-borne illnesses.

Follow these steps:

  • Gently pull the tick out with tweezers by grasping its head as close to the skin as possible.
  • If the head remains, try to remove with a sterile needle.
  • Wash the bite site with soap and water. Rubbing alcohol may be used to disinfect the area.
  • Apply an ice pack to reduce pain.

Avoid the following:

  • Do not grab the tick at the rear of the body
  • Do not twist or jerk tick while pulling it out
  • Do not use alternative methods to remove it; such as fingernail polish, alcohol, petroleum products, or a hot match.

Identify the tick. Take note of the size and color of the tick, whether it was attached to the skin (ticks must bite you to spread their germs), if it was engorged (full of blood) and about how long it was attached. A healthcare provider may ask you these questions if you begin to experience symptoms.

Watch for symptoms. If signs of infection, rash or flu-like symptoms occur within 30 days of the tick bite, seek medical attention.

Remember, a tick that is crawling on you but has not attached to your skin cannot infect you. However, if you find one tick, there could be more. Check your body carefully and use these tips to prevent future bites. Prevention is the best medicine.

If you have questions regarding tick bites or bug bites, contact our 24/7 Nurse Advisor Line at (608) 775-4454.



A few points:

  • The statement “Most tick bites are harmless” is completely false.  Who could possibly estimate this risk?  Another great example of mainstream medicine downplaying a serious problem.
  • While it’s true that the longer a tick is attached, the greater the risk of infection, it must be reiterated that minimum attachment time for transmission has never been determined.  Please treat each and every tick bite as seriously as a heart attack.Research has shown partially fed ticks that drop off transmit diseases much more quickly.
  • Identifying the tick is always smart but a tick is a tick is a tick, and all to my knowledge all have the potential of transmitting disease to you (they exchange fluids with you).  Mainstream medicine is woefully behind the 8-ball on this and doesn’t even consider the multitude of other pathogens transmitted by ticks.  To date there are 19+ pathogens transmitted by ticks. All of them are serious.
  • The statement, “watch for symptoms,” is horrible advice.  This “wait and see” approach has been dooming patients to misery for decades.  ILADS recommends prophylactic treatment for each and every black-legged tick bite.  
  • While the article doesn’t mention getting tested, many don’t understand that testing for tick-borne illness is abysmal, and often gives negative results when people are infected.
  • While some doctors will treat early with doxycycline if you are bitten by a black-legged tick and have the bullseye rash, I’ve had multiple patients report to me they were sent home empty-handed.  My advice is to pound the pavement until you find someone willing to treat you.  Time is of the essence.
  • I can’t emphasize the importance of Lyme literate doctors, who are trained by ILADS and diagnose patients clinically as they understand and appreciate the limits of serology testing.  ILADS recommends:
    • Based on animal studies, ILADS recommends that known blacklegged tick bites be treated with 20 days of doxycycline (barring any contraindications).
    • Given the low success rates in trials treating EM rashes for 20 or fewer days, ILADS recommends: that patients receive 4-6 weeks of doxycycline, amoxicillin or cefuroxime. A minimum of 21 days of azithromycin is also acceptable, especially in Europe. All patients should be reassessed at the end of their initial therapy and, when necessary, antibiotic therapy should be extended.
    • ILADS recommends that patients with persistent symptoms and signs of Lyme disease be evaluated for other potential causes before instituting additional antibiotic therapy.
    • ILADS recommends antibiotic retreatment when a chronic Lyme infection is judged to be a possible cause of the ongoing manifestations and the patient has an impaired quality of life.

For more on prevention:

Remember, in Wisconsin, ticks are found in every county in the state. Researchers are also finding them in bright, open, mowed lawns.

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