First Aid: Tick Bites

First Aid: Tick Bites

First Aid

While most tick bites are harmless and don't require medical treatment, some ticks (like the deer tick, wood tick, and others) can carry harmful germs and cause diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease. The deer tick is tiny, no larger than a pencil point. Other ticks are larger and easier to find on the skin.

Signs and Symptoms

Of Tick-Related Diseases:

What to Do

If the tick is still attached to the skin, follow these steps:

  1. Use tweezers to grasp the tick firmly at its head or mouth, next to the skin.
  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.
  3. Release the tick into a jar or zip-locked bag in case you want to have it identified later on.
  4. Wash your hands and the site of the bite with soap and water.
  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).

Seek Medical Care


Think Prevention!

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: April 2014

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

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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.
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