Using the right kind of tweezers to remove a tick is crucial to avoid damaging, squeezing, or irritating the tick, all of which are likely to cause back-flow of potentially infected fluids (the tick’s saliva and gut contents).
Blunt-nosed tweezers (like the ones used to pluck eyebrows) or surgical forceps are too broad and are more likely to squeeze the body of the tick. Fine-tipped tweezers (sometimes called precision tweezers) are slim enough to get close to the tick’s mouth parts without coming into contact with the body of the tick, which avoids compressing it. Fine-tipped or precision tweezers are usually available from high-street chemists.
Tweezer tick-removal technique
1) Grasp the tick as close to the skin of the host (the animal or person it’s attached to) as possible and pull upwards with steady, even pressure.
Do not twist or jerk the tick as this may leave its mouth parts embedded, or cause it to regurgitate disease-causing fluids. If any mouth parts do break off, they may be removed with a sterilised needle or tweezer points.
2) Do not squeeze or crush the body of the tick, because its fluids (saliva and gut contents) may contain disease-causing organisms and leak into the host’s bloodsteam or in to the skin.
3) Do not handle the tick with bare hands, because certain disease-causing organisms may enter through breaks in the skin, or through mucous membranes (if you touch eyes, nostrils or mouth).
4) After removing the tick, disinfect the bite site with an antiseptic wipe or wound wash and wash your hands with soap and water.
5) You may want to save the tick for identification in case the person or animal the tick was attached to becomes ill within several weeks. Write the date of the bite in pencil on a piece of paper and put it with the tick in a sealed plastic bag and store it in a freezer. Your doctor / vet can then be certain that a tick bite has occurred and use this information to assist in making an accurate diagnosis.
If you don’t want to keep the tick, the best way to dispose of it is to place it in a tissue and squash it. Then flush away the tissue or dispose of it in the dustbin. This will prevent the tick from going on to bite another person or animal. Although not every tick carries disease, immediate removal of an attached tick is recommended.
DO NOT use petroleum jelly, any liquid solutions, or freeze / burn the tick, as this may stimulate it to regurgitate its stomach contents, increasing the chance of infection.
After a tick bite has occurred, keep an eye on the bite site for any signs of inflammation, infection or an expanding rash. Seek medical advice if the bite area fails to heal, becomes inflamed or if the person or the animal the tick was attached to becomes unwell. For information on signs and symptoms of infection please visit our ‘Diseases‘ or ‘Pets‘ sections.