Preventing and Removing Ticks: Safely Removing Ticks, Should Ticks be Tested, & How to Chemically Prevent Tick Bites
Disclosure: I am not a doctor. I am not a pest control specialist. Please consult with the necessary professionals for more information on any of these topics. My goal is to give you an overall look at tick bite prevention and treatment using research from May 2017… new research and information is always coming out so please keep this in mind. This post may contain affiliate links. Using these links helps support my blog. Thank you!
It’s time to go pro with removing and preventing ticks. This is vital. Being a pro makes you better able to safely remove the ticks before they spread disease to yourself, your pets, or your family.
And I will stress- again– the importance of not freaking out while dealing with ticks. You want a nice steady hand to remove them so you don’t leave parts of the tick in the wound and if you’re removing them from kids or pets, you don’t want this to be a traumatic event for them. Otherwise tick checks and future tick removal will be harder.
I have two sons and like many young kids, they don’t love bugs that bite. Bees. Mosquitoes. Ticks. My 3 year old recently had a tick and I made sure to calmly talk him through the whole removal process. I find talking helps keep me calm so I explained why we need to remove ticks, what they are, and how they can sometimes spread bad diseases. I explained the removal process while I was doing it and how it wouldn’t hurt him, just the tick. Then we put the tick in some alcohol and checked out what the tick looked like.
This all happened at 2 am or thereabouts. So we disposed of the tick, I checked my son all over for other ticks then put him back to bed, then I went to take a shower because ticks freak me out and I needed to feel clean again and I needed a private place to have my delayed freak out. Haha. Shhh don’t tell the kids.
Preventing Tick Bites
If you go for a walk somewhere that might have ticks, make sure to dress appropriately. Long pants and sleeves help, particularly if you’re careful to remove them after you get home and launder them.
Have a friend or family member check you for ticks after. This is easier said than done because so many people go into panic mode about ticks. I am the tick pro in our house… I don’t trust my husband to be as careful about checking for them. I’ve met so many people whose squeamishness or disinterest makes them poor tick hunters. Don’t be a poor tick hunter. Be diligent.
Personally I shower within 2 hours after I may have been exposed to ticks. A shower will not remove an attached tick, but it can remove one that is wandering and looking for a place to bite. I also toss my “woods clothes” into the laundry. The CDC says that tossing the clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes can get rid of them, but I completely launder the outfit because usually I’m not rewearing my outdoors clothes like that.
Safely Removing Ticks from Yourself and Your Pets
I had this nightmare summer where I rode a horse whose pasture was under this great big tree. I came home with multiple ticks each time I rode and oh-the-horrors. It makes me shudder to think of it. But I got really good at removing them because my friend took one look at the tick, paled, and shook his head vigorously at my request for him to remove it.
And to be honest, I don’t want anyone removing a tick from me who doesn’t have a calm hand. Having a panic attack while removing the tick is a great way to mess up the tick removal. You need to remove ticks fast, not mess around about it all. Don’t use chemicals or fire to encourage ticks to back out. You’re just exposing yourself, your child (or other person), or pet to chemicals or fire that could further injure them.
|A very small tick that I found on my ankle while I was waiting at the doctor’s office. I’m guessing this may be a deer tick due to the size so I’ll keep an eye out for symptoms of Lyme. I removed it immediately with tweezers and washed the wound with soap, water, then hand sanitizer (because I was out and that’s what I had available).|
What you need to remove ticks:
- Tweezers (I keep a pair exclusively used for ticks) or you can try this Tick Twister Tool. I purchased the Tick Twister set and I’m eager to try it, but not eager enough to go wandering in the woods waiting to get a tick. I haven’t seen a tick since I purchased this set and placed it above my kitchen sink- except the one I found on my ankle at the doctor’s office. In that case, I removed it immediately using tweezers that I borrowed from the doctor. I’m not sure if the tick twister is better or worse than a set of tweezers. From the CDC’s recommendations, they want you to pull the tick out straight and not twist it in any way.
- An empty pill bottle with some rubbing alcohol in it is a good way to keep the ticks after removal. Label it carefully and put it out of the way (or toss). Some people keep them in case the ticks need to be tested.
Process to remove ticks with tweezers: Using your tweezers, gently grab the tick close to where it is attached to your skin. Pull the tick straight out, being careful not to squeeze the tweezers too tight. You want a steady, firm, but gentle hand here. No twisting or craziness. STRAIGHT. OUT.
You do not want to tear the tick apart, leaving part of it in your skin. If that happens, you want to try to remove the rest of the tick which is a lot trickier without the main body to grab onto.
Once the tick is removed, place it in your empty pill bottle with rubbing alcohol and watch it drown. I try to hold back my squeamishness until this point, then I can bask in the glory of watching this awful creature drown. Not very friendly of me, but alas…
Or you could just be a normal person and shut the top. I like that pill bottles have child proof tops because… you know… kids. And because I have this illogical fear about ticks escaping. Both of those.
I feel good knowing that one tick is contained and taken care of, even though I know there’s plenty more where it came from.
After care for tick bites: Wash the tick bite area with soap and water. I follow up by washing the area with rubbing alcohol. I do the same with my hands and tweezers. And anything that the tick might have touched.
If you have one tick, it’s always good to do a in-depth check for others.
It might be worth tracking tick bites, particularly if you get a lot of them. Be on the look out for symptoms of Lyme disease (such as rash or fever) or other tick related diseases. If you get symptoms within a few weeks of the bite, inform your doctor and they will run tests.
Should Ticks be Tested?
That said, some people do keep ticks for a few weeks until they’re sure they don’t have any symptoms. If so, keeping them in a container with rubbing alcohol is good. My mom always used empty pill bottles with alcohol for this.
Chemicals to Prevent Ticks
I’m very hesitant to try chemicals so I tend to avoid them when I can. But I did some research for you and it appears that DEET bug spray is not as useful at preventing ticks as another chemical, permethrin.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that the chemical is safe to put directly on your skin so you need to treat your clothing instead. You can also make tick tubes or landscape your yard to help decrease the tick population in your yard
Visit the CDC Website on How to Avoid Tick Contact for People to see how you can treat your clothing to prevent ticks.
Free Tick Bite Tracking Sheet
I went back and forth about whether this would be a useful tool for some of you. I’m hoping nobody gets ticks this often! But in case you do, I created a free tick bite tracking sheet to keep track of tick bites for your family.
The FREE printable tick bite tracking sheet is available to blog subscribers. Click here or below to subscribe and you’ll be sent an email with a link to the exclusive subscribers-only Google Drive folder. This folder includes lots of free patterns, printables, and more.