What Should I Do about an Embedded Tick?

Meshell Powell

Proper removal of an embedded tick is important in order to reduce the risks of infection or tick-borne diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever or Lyme disease. It is generally recommended that a pair of sterilized tweezers are used to gently remove the tick. Also important is making sure that the head is completely removed, as the head will sometimes detach from the body during the removal process. Older methods of removing an embedded tick, such as the use of a match or petroleum jelly, are no longer recommended and may be harmful. If there is any doubt as to whether all parts of the embedded tick have been removed, a quick visit to a doctor or local hospital can confirm that the tick has been completely removed.

Lyme disease may be contracted when exposed to the bacteria carried by deer ticks, making quick tick removal critical.
Lyme disease may be contracted when exposed to the bacteria carried by deer ticks, making quick tick removal critical.

The first step in removing an embedded tick is to apply gloves and calmly use a pair of sterilized tweezers to firmly grab the tick as close to the surface of the skin as possible. The tick should then be slowly removed from the body, as removing the tick quickly increases the chances of the head detaching from the body. Once removed, the tick should be placed into a safe container for transport to a doctor for examination and determination of any disease it may be carrying.

It's important to remove all parts of a tick from the bite.
It's important to remove all parts of a tick from the bite.

After the embedded tick has been removed, it is important to properly clean the area of the bite. A cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol can be used to clean and disinfect the affected area of skin. As long as it is certain that the entire tick has been removed, the body of the tick can be stored in the freezer for a couple of weeks. This allows time to see if any negative symptoms begin to develop, at which time the tick can be taken to a doctor for closer examination.

Take special care when removing a tick so that a health professional can later inspect it for disease.
Take special care when removing a tick so that a health professional can later inspect it for disease.

If the head of the tick detaches from the body, the tweezers can be used again to carefully remove all head and mouth parts. If there is any doubt as to whether the entire embedded tick has been removed, the person who has been bitten should visit a doctor or local hospital so that the remainder can be removed. The body of the tick should be transported as well so that the medical staff can test the tick for any potentially infectious diseases.

Tweezers can be used to detach the tick from the skin.
Tweezers can be used to detach the tick from the skin.

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