Tick Removal: A Step-by-Step Guide

Tick Removal: A Step-by-Step Guide

Tick Bites Instruction Sheet

Boy, your child's freckles really stand out in the sun — but wait, that one looks like it's moving! It isn't a freckle at all. It's a tick. What should you do?

First, don't panic. It's true that Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in the United States, but your child's risk of developing Lyme disease after being bitten by a tick is very low.

To be safe, though, you'll want to remove the tick as soon as possible because risk of infection increases between 24 to 48 hours after the tick attaches to the skin.

What to Do

Step 1: Use tweezers to grasp the tick firmly at its head or mouth, next to the skin.

Step 2: Pull firmly and steadily until the tick lets go of the skin. Do not twist the tick or rock it from side to side. If part of the tick stays in the skin, don't worry. It will eventually come out on its own.

Step 3: Release the tick into a jar or zip-locked bag in case you want to have it identified later on.

Step 4: Wash your hands and the site of the bite with soap and water.

Step 5: Swab the bite site with alcohol.

Never use petroleum jelly or a hot match to kill and remove a tick. These methods don't get the tick off the skin, and can cause the insect to burrow deeper and release more saliva (which increases the chances of disease transmission).

Next Steps

Call your doctor after the tick has been removed to find out if your child should be evaluated. In certain cases, a doctor will prescribe antibiotics if a child is at high risk of developing Lyme disease.

Call the doctor right away if your child develops a red-ringed rash or if the skin becomes red and irritated. Also call if your child has flu-like symptoms, joint pain or a swollen joint, or facial paralysis. Although other conditions can cause similar symptoms, you'll want to have your child evaluated early on so that if it is Lyme disease, treatment can begin as soon as possible.

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: December 2013





Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995-2014 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.





Bookmark and Share

Related Resources
OrganizationCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The CDC (the national public health institute of the United States) promotes health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability.
OrganizationAmerican Lyme Disease Foundation This organization is dedicated to advancing the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and control of Lyme disease.
Related Articles
Woods and Camping Safety for the Whole Family A family camping trip can be an enjoyable experience with a little preparation.
Camping and Woods Safety Ah, the great outdoors! Find out how to stay safe while you're exploring the woods.
Hey! A Tick Bit Me! A tick attaches itself to the skin of a person or animal and sucks blood. If you have a dog, it may have picked up a tick before! Learn more about ticks in this article for kids.
Evaluate Your Child's Lyme Disease Risk Does the threat of Lyme disease make you think your kids would be safer in your living room than in the great outdoors? Find out how to evaluate a child's Lyme disease risk.
Lyme Disease The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to prevent tick bites. Find out more about this disease and how to keep those ticks away.
Lyme Disease Lyme disease can affect the skin, joints, nervous system, and other organ systems. If diagnosed quickly and treated with antibiotics, Lyme disease in kids is almost always treatable.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Rocky Mountain spotted fever is an infection transmitted by ticks. Find out more about it - including how to prevent it.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is a disease caused by a bacteria that is carried by certain types of ticks. Learn about the signs and symptoms of RMSF and tips for preventing infection in this article.
Bug Bites and Stings In most cases, bug bites and stings are just nuisances. But in some cases, they can cause infections and allergic reactions. It's important to know the signs, and when to get medical attention.
Lyme Disease Lyme disease can be treated if it's caught early. So read this to find out what causes it, how it's treated, and how to prevent it.
What's My Lyme Disease Risk? Is the thought of Lyme disease making you feel you'll be safer in the comfort of your room than the great outdoors? This article can help you assess your Lyme disease risk.
Bug Bites and Stings Generally, insect bites and stings are harmless. Find out how to keep pests from ruining your fun.
iGrow iGrow
Sign up for our parent enewsletter