Yikes! You've just arrived home after a beautiful fall walk in the woods and happen to find a big, fat tick hanging out on your body. Time to panic, right?
Wrong! If you or your pet are bitten by a tick, it's important to keep calm and refrain from hysterics. React swiftly, but calmly as well. If followed properly, these next steps will help to lower the risk of further damage, and will help to get the tick away from you or your pet as soon as possible.
Experience has shown that ticks most often seek the warm and moist areas on the body to hide out in, such as the armpits, groin, behind the knee, the scalp, elbows, behind the ears, behind the neck, and other dark places, so be sure to check these areas thoroughly after spending time outdoors.
Use Clean Tweezers
Using a pair of clean tweezers, carefully grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull slowly upward, but try not to twist or crush the tick while doing so. Some firm yet gentle tugging should be able to pry the pest lose.
Wash The Area
As soon as the tick is removed, wash the area where you were bitten with soap and water. You should also disinfect the general area, the tweezers and anything else that came in contact with the tick with alcohol or hand sanitizer. Cleanliness brings peace of mind!
Mind The Mouth
If parts of the tick's mouth breaks off and remains in your skin, remove them with tweezers as well. Rinse and repeat (no pun intended) the steps from our second point to ensure maximum safety.
Contact Health Care
If you cannot remove parts of the tick's mouth in your skin - or even the tick itself - contact your local health care provider immediately. They will be able to provide further advice and wisdom on how to proceed and will be able to answer any relevant questions you may have.
Save The Tick
While it may seem counterproductive (and a little icky) to preserve the dastardly tick that just had a go at you, it does help for testing purposes. If you cannot submit the tick for testing right away, follow these steps:
- Save the tick in a plastic bag that you can seal or a pill bottle. Record the location and date of the bite, and store this data somewhere safe.
- Store the container for up to 10 days in the refrigerator. Although it may sound a tad morbid, keep the live ticks in the fridge and the dead ticks in the freezer. It is close to Halloween after all...
- Take the results to your local health care provider.