How to remove a tick safely


1 . Do NOT DELAY removing the tick. Prompt removal reduces the risk of Lyme disease.
The longer ticks are attached, the higher the risk of catching Lyme disease. 

2 . Use a tick remover tool or narrow, pointed tweezers if possible.
Never use blunt eyebrow tweezers. If you have no alternative, use long fingernails or scrape the tick off sideways using a credit card. This will leave the feeding parts embedded, but is less dangerous than risking Lyme disease. 

3 . Lift straight upwards, pulling firmly and steadily. Do not squeeze the tick’s body.
If you don’t manage to get the feeding parts out, the bite could go septic but this is not Lyme disease.

4 . Disinfect the bite area and wash your hands with soap.

5. DO NOT put any substance on the tick.
Putting vaseline, nail varnish or any other substance on a tick, or distressing it in any way while feeding, will make it more likely to regurgitate Lyme disease bacteria into your body.

How do I remove a tick using tweezers?

  1. You will need very narrow, pointed tweezers. Square-ended eyebrow tweezers are not suitable at all.
  2. Close the tips around the tick’s feeding parts, underneath the body of the tick. Do NOT squeeze the body of the tick.
  3. Lift the tick away from the skin vertically and intact. Pull, don’t yank.
  4. Clean the area with alcohol disinfectant.

Suitable forceps or tweezers are used by dentists and you can buy them from Ebay or Amazon. They are called “cotton swab tweezers”. Only buy a pair with tips which taper into sharp points.

Watch this video for a demonstration of correct tick removal using tweezers: [youtube]

How do I remove a tick using a tick tool?

Tick removers, sold online or from a pharmacy or vet, have various forms.

Whichever tick remover tool you buy, read the instruction for that particular tool carefully to make sure you know how to use it correctly.

Twisting tool

The O’Tom tick twister has undergone recent development and is now suitable for humans as well as pets.

They provide tools of two sizes – one for adult ticks and one for nypmh ticks. You may need a smaller, sharper tool for particularly small nymph ticks in early stages of development.

The instructions are to slide the tool beneath the tick and then rotate as if unscrewing the tick.

They also come as handy clip packs which you can attach to your clothing or rucksacks for ease of use.

Slot tools

Some tools have a slot which you slide under the tick, to then prise the tool away from the skin. This includes the Lifesystems safecard.

Lassoo tools

Some tools have a tiny lassoo which you loop around the tick, and then pull it out. This includes the Trix Tick lassoo.

Claw tools

Some tools have claws which can be spread out and then closed together next to the skin, around the tick’s feeding parts. This includes the Care Plus Tick Out tool.

BEWARE of misinformation about tick removal online!

DO NOT do any of the following: burn the tick, smother the tick in Vaseline, rub around it with a cotton bud, squeeze the tick, stick tape over it, try to pull it out with ordinary eyebrow tweezers, or do anything to it while it is attached and feeding other than removing it as described above. Distressing a feeding tick will make it more likely to regurgitate Lyme disease bacteria into your body.

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Sources and Further Information

“Tick bite prevention and tick removal” British Medical Journal Clinical Review

“Evaluation of Five Popular Methods for Tick Removal” Glen R. Needham

“The application of petroleum jelly, fingernail polish, 70% isopropyl alcohol, or a hot kitchen match failed to induce detachment of adult American dog ticks”

“It is recommended that the tick be grasped as close to the skin as possible with curved forceps; if these are not available, use tweezers or protected fingers. Pull straight up with steady even pressure.”

“Effect of Tick Removal on Transmission of Borrelia burgdorferi and Ehrlichia phagocytophila by Ixodes scapularis Nymphs” Franka des Vignes et al 

“Risk of Infection with Borrelia burgdorferi sense lato for a Host in Relation to the Duration of Nymphal Ixodes ricinus Feeding and the Method of Tick Removal” O. Kahl et al

“All gerbils with ticks removed >- 47 hrs post-attachment were found to be infected. After 16.7 hrs as well as after 28.9 hrs of tick feeding, approximately 50% of the gerbils had acquired a transmissible infection, thus Bb-transmission to a host may even occur in the early phases of I. ricinus feeding.”

“Evaluation of three commercial tick removal tools” Richard L. Stewart at al

“Nymphal ticks were consistently removed more successfully with commercial tools when compared with tweezers but with more difficulty than adults were removed.”

But contrast this with:

“Evaluation of methods of tick removal in human ixodidiasis” Oteo JA et al

“With regard to the type of removal method and the development of complications, only three patients who had ticks pulled with tweezers experienced complications compared with 23 patients who used other methods (p = 0.0058). With regard to specific complications (LB and/or spotted fever) and/or development of B. burgdorferi or R. conorii infection significant differences were also observed when tweezers were used for removal of ticks compared with other tick removal methods (p < 0.05). CONCLUSION: The removal of ticks with tweezers significantly protects from the development of complications and infection by tick-borne microorganisms.”

DISCLAIMER: Caudwell LymeCo charity shares public domain  information, which it believes to be reliable, in good faith. It should never replace the advice of a qualified physician with a license to practise medicine. If you believe any information on this website to be incorrect, you are invited to contact the charity using the Contact page.