Pulling out a tick is a delicate affair.
One clumsy, overeager motion can make the difference between safe removal and a potentially dangerous situation where the tick’s head breaks off or body fluids contaminate the wound.
Whether the tick’s dug into a person or an animal, removal is all about patience, says UF veterinarian Dr. Rick Alleman.
- Illuminate the tick with a flashlight. (If possible, have a friend hold the flashlight).
- Using fine-point tweezers, grasp the tick’s mouthparts, just below the head.
- Pull steadily and straight up – no twisting or pulling at different angles.
- Be patient. If your initial efforts fail, try again with slightly more force.
One thing you definitely don’t want to do, Alleman says, is grasp the tick by its abdomen. The pressure from your grip could squeeze the tick’s stomach contents into the wound, including pathogens responsible for illnesses, such as Lyme disease or ehrlichiosis.
And for dog owners, keep an eye out for the brown dog tick. This is the only Florida tick that can carry out its entire life cycle inside the confines of your home. It prefers dogs but will feed on humans, so it pays to take precautions.
Brown dog tick (University of Florida video, featuring UF/IFAS’ Dr. Phil Kaufman):
Want to see more information on tick removal next month? Maybe info on how to select a good pair of fine-point tweezers, or how to keep a dog calm during tick removal? Let us know!