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How to Remove A Tick

The only safe way to remove a tick is to physically pull it from the skin. Attempts to smother or drown the tick are not effective. Efforts to burn the tick off may result in burns to the child and may increase the likelihood of transmission of tick-borne infectious illnesses. The tick should be grasped by the head with a pair of tweezers or similar device. Commercially available notched scoops allow an acceptable alternative. Do not grasp the tick by the body as the resulting squeeze may force fluids from the tick onto the bite site and increase the risk of transmission of tick-borne illnesses.

Tick removal often results in some tearing of the skin at the site of the tick bite due to the adherent ability of the tick. Any skin break is a potential site of bacterial infection. Superinfection simply means bacterial infection in addition to the original illness or problem. Typical bacteria are staphylococcal and streptococcal species. After tick removal, cleansing of the site with soap and water and application of an antibiotic ointment will minimize the risk of bacterial superinfection. Redness surrounding the bite site, or drainage from the area is concerning for bacterial superinfection and should prompt a visit to your child’s physician.

Preventing tick bites

  • Avoid high risk environmental exposures such as brush, tall grass, and wooded areas.
  • Survey for ticks directly after exposure to high risk areas. Perform daily tick checks for all children who play out of doors in rural and suburban areas. Making the tick check part of the nightly bath allows visualization of the entire body and establishes a routine.
  • Dress children in white or light colored unpatterned playclothes which will allow easier identification of ticks on the clothing. In high risk, areas tuck pant legs into socks and encourage the use of hats.
  • DEET- (Diethylmetatoluamide)- is an effective tick repellant which is best used when applied to clothing such as hats, shoes, pant legs and shirt sleeves, rather than to the skin in children. For children, use products with less than 10% DEET. After returning indoors, wash skin with soap and water. Wash any clothing before wearing it again.