Removing Ticks

Need to clean this up.  I have found good success with the pro-tick tool as well.

Posted June 26, 2006 09:06 AM


Please post your opinions about the best tick removal tools. Here's some background information:

Wilderness Environ Med. 1998 Fall;9(3):137-42.
Evaluation of three commercial tick removal tools.
Stewart RL, Burgdorfer W, Needham GR.
Department of Entomology, Acarology Laboratory, The Ohio State University, Columbus 43210, USA.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate three commercially available tick removal tools against medium-tipped nontissue tweezers.

METHODS: We evaluated three commercially available tick removal tools against medium-tipped tweezers. Three inexperienced users randomly removed attached American dog ticks (Dermacentor variabilis Say) and lone star ticks (Amblyomma americanum L.) from laboratory rabbits in a university animal facility using all tools during one removal session.

RESULTS: Tick damage occurring from removal and quantity of attachment cement were compared. No tool removed nymphs without damage and all tools removed adults of both species successfully. American dog ticks proved easier to remove than lone star ticks, whose mouthparts often remained in the skin.

CONCLUSIONS: Nymphal ticks were consistently removed more successfully with commercial tools when compared with tweezers but with more difficulty than adults were removed. The commercial tick removal tools tested are functional for removal of nymphs and adults and should be considered as viable alternatives to medium-tipped tweezers.
Tick Removal
Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, East Lansing, Michigan
(Am Fam Physician 2002;66:643-5,646. Copyright© 2002 American Academy of Family Physicians.)

Many methods of tick removal that have been reported in the literature have proved to be unsatisfactory in controlled studies. Some methods may even cause harm by inducing the tick to salivate and regurgitate into the host. Ticks are best removed as soon as possible, because the risk of disease transmission increases significantly after 24 hours of attachment. The use of a blunt, medium-tipped, angled forceps offers the best results. Following tick removal, the bite area should be inspected carefully for any retained mouthparts, which should be excised. The area is then cleaned with antiseptic solution, and the patient is instructed to monitor for signs of local or systemic illness. Routine antibiotic prophylaxis following tick removal generally is not indicated but may be considered in pregnant patients or in areas endemic to tick-borne disease.

Because tick bites are nearly painless, a tick may not be noticed until after it is attached. It is important to remove the tick from the host as soon as possible after it is discovered. Animal and human studies have shown that the risk of Lyme disease transmission increases significantly after 24 hours of attachment and is even higher after more than 48 hours.1-6
In addition to timely removal, it is important to remove the tick completely, including the mouthpart and the cement the tick has secreted to secure attachment. Improper tick removal may cause mouthparts to break off in the skin, possibly leading to infection or granuloma formation.7 Twisting off the head should be avoided, because this may cause the tick's potentially infectious body fluids to escape.

Ticks should never be handled with bare hands and should be disposed of with hazardous waste or preserved in alcohol if identification is needed.

Few methods for tick removal that have been reported in the literature have scientific support. Some methods that are not recommended (Table 1) include applying a hot match or nail to the tick body; covering the tick with petroleum jelly, nail polish, alcohol or gasoline; using injected or topical lidocaine (Xylocaine); or passing a suture needle through the tick.8-15

Although there is conflicting evidence as to whether the removal technique influences infection rates,6,10,16 these methods may induce the tick to salivate and regurgitate into the attachment site, theoretically increasing the risk of infection.8,11

Commercially available tick-removal devices include the Sawyer Tick Pliers (B&A Products, Bunch, Okla.), Pro-Tick Remedy (SCS Limited, Stony Point, N.Y.) and Ticked Off (Ticked Off Inc., Dover, N.H.). Although one study17 found that the Pro-Tick Remedy and Ticked Off devices left mouthparts in the skin less often, all three devices listed above were recommended over tweezers for tick removal. Another study2 recommended the Ticked Off device but did not compare it with other devices. There are other commercially available tick-removal devices, but no studies have evaluated their usefulness.

The most commonly recommended and successful tick-removal method is manual extraction of the tick.7,8,10,11,16,18-21 [Reference 16--Evidence level B, nonrandomized study] A blunt, medium-tipped, angled forceps offers the best results, using the method shown in Figure 1.

After a tick is removed, an antiseptic solution is applied to the attachment site, and patients should be educated about the signs and symptoms of local and systemic illness. There is conflicting evidence as to the need for routine antibiotic prophylaxis.22-24 Although a discussion of evidence is beyond the scope of this article, most experts, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Infectious Diseases Society of America, do not recommend routine antibiotic prophylaxis.25,26 [Reference 26--Evidence level C, expert opinion] However, antibiotic use may be considered in patients who are deemed high-risk, in pregnant patients, and in patients living in areas endemic to tick-borne disease.2,18
It is important to remove the tick completely, including the mouthpart and the cement the tick has secreted to secure attachment.

Ineffective or Dangerous Methods of Removing Ticks: What Not to Do

Do not use sharp forceps.
Do not crush, puncture, or squeeze the tick's body.
Do not apply substances such as petroleum jelly, gasoline, lidocaine (Xylocaine), etc., to the tick.
Do not apply heat with a match or hot nail.
Do not use a twisting or jerking motion to remove the tick.
Do not handle the tick with bare hands.

Patient information:

How to Remove a Tick
What should I do if I find a tick on my skin?

It is important to remove the tick as soon as possible. Use the following steps:

If possible, clean the area with an antiseptic solution or soap and water. Take care not to scrub the tick too hard. Just clean the skin around it.

Use blunt tweezers or gloved fingers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible.

Gently pull the tick straight away from the skin.

If the tick's head breaks off in the skin, use tweezers to remove it like you would a splinter.

If you live where tick diseases are common, save the tick in a small bottle of rubbing alcohol. Your doctor can check it to see what kind of tick it is and what kind of infection it might carry. Otherwise, flush it in the toilet. Wash your hands.

Wash the area around the bite with antibacterial soap.

Call your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.

Also, see:

- and -

"I found a new tick removal tool that works great. Backpacker magazine, in the May, 97 issue had a very informative article about ticks. They evaluated several tick removal tools and the one that won out was the: Pro-Tick Remedy (1-800-PIX-TICK) PO Box 573, Stony Point, NY 10980."

And also, see
Posts: 125 | Location: New York | Registered: June 02, 2005 Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Posted June 26, 2006 09:15 AM Hide Post
For the man who has everything (including ticks):

The G O L D plated tick removal tool:
Posts: 125 | Location: New York | Registered: June 02, 2005 Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of Otto
Posted June 26, 2006 10:02 AM Hide Post
When I was a scout, we always used a lit cigarette. Place the "cherry" on the tick's rear end, and the heat will make them extract themselves from your skin. I have seen it work about a half dozen times, including on myself...
Posts: 33 | Location: Portlandia... | Registered: January 29, 2006 Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Posted June 26, 2006 02:26 PM Hide Post
I've had good success using a pair of "reverse" tweezers. I don't remember exactly what they're called, but they are available in the knick-knack section of outdoors stores (with the matches, etc. in my store). Instead of staying open naturally, like regular tweezers, these stay closed. Then you can use one hand to open them and a spring pulls the tweezer closed when you let go of it. That way you can grab the tick and not have to worry about applying pressure to the tweezers while you're trying to pull.
Posts: 1 | Registered: June 06, 2006 Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of secret_treaties
Posted June 26, 2006 05:40 PM Hide Post
useful post, Thanks!

One of those creatures in the animal world that truely annoys me. give me 1000 mosquitoes over 1 tick any day.
Posts: 124 | Location: Boise, Idaho | Registered: March 08, 2005 Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Posted October 12, 2006 09:31 PM Hide Post
Here's the latest on tick removal tools and techniques:

Eurosurveillance weekly
Release 2006 > Volume 11 / Issue 8

Removal of ticks: a review of the literature.
Health Protection Agency Centre for Infections, London, UK; DW Pitches (

Eurosurveillance recently reported that travellers who discover ticks attached to them should remove the tick by grasping the mouthpiece with tweezers (forceps) and rotating the tick whilst withdrawing it [1]. Subsequently, readers and a posting to ProMED-mail [2] have pointed out that other guidelines, including those of the World Health Organization [3] and the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [4] do not advise rotating the tick during removal. Yet these guidelines also differ from one another with respect to whether it is advisable to suffocate ticks with paraffin or equivalent. Reasons behind the differing advice and some basic common points shared by all guidance are discussed below.
Anatomy and physiology of feeding ticks
Ticks are arthropod vectors of a number of pathogens that cause potentially serious human diseases such as Lyme borreliosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tickborne encephalitis, tularaemia and Q fever. A single tick can carry a number of different pathogens [5], leading to atypical presentation of tickborne illness.

Two classes of tick are responsible for disease in humans, hard ticks (family Ixodidae) and soft ticks (family Argasidae), the principle difference being the hard plate or scutum that hard ticks possess. There is a third class of tick, family Nutalliellidae, of which only one species is known, which is not of medical importance [6], Because soft ticks take smaller, quicker blood meals at shorter intervals, they can transmit pathogens much more quickly (within a minute of biting) than hard ticks (hours or days) [6]. However, hard ticks are more common, harder to remove and more likely to transmit disease.

Ticks have a barbed, harpoon-like mouthpiece called a hypostome which they insert into their host to suck blood. Many hard ticks also secrete a cement which further strengthens their attachment. When removing ticks, it is important not to squash the body (which could inject toxins or microbes into the host), break off the mouthpiece or leave cement behind (which could lead to allergic irritation from tick proteins or secondary bacterial infection).

Experimental evidence for tick removal techniques
There is very limited experimental evidence to support most suggested tick removal strategies, and only a few reviews [7,8]. While both mechanical removal and chemical incapacitation have their advocates, experimental evidence suggests that chemical irritants are ineffective at persuading ticks to detach, and risk triggering injection of salivary fluids and possible transmission of disease-causing microbes. In addition, suffocating ticks by smothering them with petroleum jelly is an ineffective method of killing them because they have such a low respiratory rate (only requiring 3-15 breaths per hour) that by the time they die, there may have been sufficient time for pathogens to be transmitted.

One study compared several different techniques for removing ticks [9]. Application of petroleum jelly, fingernail polish, 70% isopropyl alcohol, or a hot kitchen match failed to induce detachment of adult American dog ticks (Dermacentor variabilis). Using forceps or grasping with fingers as close to the skin as possible did remove the ticks. Rotating the tick during removal did not appear more likely to damage the mouthparts than pulling straight out, though twisting the tick was ultimately not recommended, because of the risk of breaking of the mouthparts.

Three commercially available devices were compared to conventional forceps for their effectiveness in removing lone star (Amblyomma americanum (L.)) or American dog ticks (D. variabilis) from laboratory rabbits [10]. It was found that for adult ticks, forceps and a commercial product that grasped the tick were superior to products with a central V-shaped groove that were designed to scoop the tick off. Conversely, removal of nymphs (immature ticks) with forceps tended to leave the mouthparts behind more often than removal with the grooved devices. A variety of other techniques were tested, including fingernail polish, petroleum jelly, a glowing hot match, 70% isopropanol and injection of local anaesthetics (lidocaine, lidocaine with epinephrine, and chloroprocaine). None of these methods initiated self-detachment.

A Spanish study that compared the outcomes of people who removed ticks using forceps and those who used other methods found that people who used forceps were significantly less likely to experience complications, including the skin disease erythema migrans* and secondary bacterial infections [11].

A Dutch study compared the ease of removal and retention of mouthparts using several techniques: applying gasoline, 70% isopropyl alcohol or a hot match, pulling clockwise or pulling straight out with quick or steady even pressure using conventional forceps or ’Tick Solution’ forceps [12]. Chemical methods failed to cause ticks to detach within half an hour, and pulling the ticks straight out was significantly less likely to lead to retained mouthparts than rotational pulling. An American study compared conventional forceps against ’Tick Solution’ forceps and found the conventional forceps to be superior [13].

Nevertheless, at least one company specifically markets a veterinary product that catches the tick in a groove in a plastic device that is then rotated several times. It claims that the rostrum spikes fold into the axis of rotation, facilitating tick removal without the risk of snapping off the hypostome, and provides video evidence of this technique working on the company’s website [14].

Other mechanical techniques have been described, with anecdotal levels of evidence. Lassoing the tick as close to the skin as possible, using a loose knot of cotton thread, such as from clothing, then applying gentle traction, can remove ticks when forceps are not available [15]. Disposable razors have also been suggested [16].

Relatively few studies have been conducted in this area, and those that have been vary with respect to different tick species, different host species and different time periods of tick attachment before removal. When the species of tick is known to be of the soft family, and disease in humans is not endemic in an area, the World Health Organization recommendation of chemical methods of removing ticks may be appropriate [3]. However, since many people, particularly travellers who are not familiar with an area, will not be able to distinguish between different types of tick or know the local prevalence of disease, it seems sensible to recommend always removing ticks by grasping with forceps as close to the skin as possible and pulling straight out to avoid leaving mouthparts behind. There is a clear and simple image that illustrates this at reference 4.

*Correction. This was corrected from 'larva migrans' to 'erythema migrans' at the author's request on 18 August 2006
Eurosurveillance editorial office, 18 August 2006.


1) Editorial team. Increase in cases of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, Turkey, 2006. Euro Surveill 2006;11(7):E060720.2. (

2) Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever - Turkey (02). In: ProMED-mail [online]. Boston US: International Society for Infectious Diseases, archive no. 20060728.2082, 28 July 2006. (

3) Ticks. In: Vector control - methods for use by individuals and communities. Geneva: World Health Organization; 1997. (

4) Lyme disease. Tick removal. CDC Division of vector borne infectious diseases website. Page last reviewed 20 July 2005. (

5) Schulze TL, Jordan RA, Schulze CJ, Mixson T, Papero M. Relative encounter frequencies and prevalence of selected Borrelia, Ehrlichia, and Anaplasma infections in Amblyomma americanum and Ixodes scapularis (Acari: Ixodidae) ticks from central New Jersey. J Med Entomol 2005; 42(3):450-

6) Edlow JA. Tick-borne diseases – introduction. Emedicine website. Last updated 24 May 2005. (

7) Teece S.The straight, slow method may be best for removing ticks. Best evidence topics website. Last modified 13 November 2002. (

8) Gammons M, Salam G. Tick Removal. Am Fam Physician 2002; 66 (4): 643-646. (

9) Needham GR. Evaluation of five popular methods for tick removal. Pediatrics 1985; 75(6):997-1002. (

10) Stewart LR Jr, Burgdorfer W, Needham GR. Evaluation of three commercial tick removal tools. Wilderness Environ Med 1998; 9: 137-142. (

11) Oteo JA, Martinez de Artola V, Gomez-Cadinanos R, Casas JM, Blanco JR, Rosel L. Evaluation of methods of tick removal in human ixodidiasis [Article in Spanish]. Rev Clin Esp 1996; 196(9):584-7.

12) De Boer R, van den Bogaard AE. Removal of attached nymphs and adults of Ixodes ricinus (Acari: Ixodidae). J Med Entomol 1993; 30(4):748-52.

13) Bowles DE, McHugh CP, Spradling SL. Evaluation of devices for removing attached Rhipicephalus sanguineus (Acari: Ixodidae). J Med Entomol 1992; 29(5): 901-902.

14) O’TOM ® hook or Tick-twister ®. Website ( Accessed 14 August 2006.

15) Celenza A, Rogers IR. The “knot method” of tick removal. Wilderness Environ Med 2002; 13(2): 181. (

16) Moehrle M, Rassner G. How to remove ticks? Dermatology 2002; 204(4): 303-304

Source of above:
Posts: 125 | Location: New York | Registered: June 02, 2005 Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Posted October 12, 2006 10:11 PM Hide Post
Otto, I don't remember any scouts in my pack that carried a pack of smokes. Now some of these kid in my sons pack probley roll their own. LOL.

I go to the office once a month, only so I can stop by REI.