Removing Ticks Safely

It’s tick season after a mild winter. Be sure to check yourself carefully after every time in the woods. If you find a tick, don’t panic. The Center for Disease Control’s protocol for removing them is quite simple:

1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.

2. Once you have a firm grasp, pull up­ward with steady, even force. Don’t twist or jerk the tick because you might cause its mouth to break off and remain in the skin.

3. If you do accidentally break the tick in half, try removing the mouth with the tweezers. If you can’t, leave it alone and let the skin heal.

4. You can dispose of the tick in one of several ways: submerse it in alcohol, place it in a sealed bag or container, wrap it tightly in tape, or flush it down the toilet. (Never handle a tick with your bare fingers; pathogens called spirochetes can pass from the tick to you through even tiny breaks in your skin.)

5. Once the tick is disposed of, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.

6. Check the bite area for several weeks after removal. If you develop a rash there (or have a fever at any point in that time frame), see a doctor about getting tested for Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.