Ticks are small, parasitic pests that are active outdoors during the spring, summer, and fall. They attach themselves to a host in order to feed on blood, posing a potential health hazard in backyards, parks, and wooded areas.
If you discover a tick that has attached itself to you, don’t panic. Ticks can sometimes transmit diseases to humans, such as Lyme disease, but not every tick bite is infectious. And according to the CDC, the tick need to be attached for at least 36 to 48 hours to infect a person with Lyme disease.
Knowing how to check for ticks and remove them safely will help protect you and your family members from tick-transmitted illnesses.
Where to Check For Tick Bites
Tick bites can be hard to notice because they don’t cause pain or itchiness like mosquito bites do. That’s because ticks inject the skin with an anesthetic in order to avoid detection while they feed.
Ticks also tend to crawl around the body for some time in search of a suitable location to feed. They prefer warm, dark, and moist areas of the skin where it’s difficult for the host to notice them.
Here are the most common areas to check for tick bites if you’ve been outdoors in tick-infested areas, according to a survey from Upstate Medical University’s Citizen Science Tick Testing Program:
- Thigh (15.6%)
- Waist/hip (7.6%)
- Stomach (7.4%)
- Groin (6.8%)
- Upper arm (6.4%)
- Scalp (6.4%)
- Upper back (6.4%)
- Behind the knee (5.9%)
- Calf/shin (5.8%)
- Armpit (5.2%)
- Neck (4.9%)
- Lower back (4.4%)
- Chest (3.9%)
- Shoulder (3.7%)
- In/around ears (2.9%)
- Lower arm/wrist (2.9%)
- Ankle (1.1%)
- Face (0.7%)
- Belly button (0.7%)
- Hand (0.7%)
- Foot (0.4%)
How to Remove a Tick
If you find a tick attached to you, the next step is to remove it. The sooner you remove the tick, the less likely it is to pass on harmful bacteria that cause Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.
Follow the steps below to safely remove a tick based on instructions from the CDC.
Step 0: Preparation
There are certain tools on the market specifically designed for tick removal, but if you don’t have these at home, a fine-tipped tweezer works very well.
In addition to tweezers (or your tick removal tool), we recommend washing your hands, wearing gloves, and having some alcohol wipes handy.
Lastly, it’s a good idea to prepare a plastic bag or container to place the tick in after you remove it. This can help with diagnosis if any symptoms appear later.
Step 1: Grab the head of the tick
Using the tweezers, get as close to the surface of the skin as possible and grab onto its head (or directly above it’s head). The head is the part of the tick that’s stuck in your skin.
Do not try to grab the swollen abdomen of a feeding tick, as this can squeeze infected fluid back into your body.
Step 2: Gently but firmly pull it straight out
Pull straight upward with steady, even pressure. As you pull, the tick may continue to hold on and pull the skin up with it. Continue pulling until the tick has been removed.
Avoid twisting or jerking motions, which can cause the tick’s head or mouth parts to break off and stay lodged in the skin.
If this happens, you can try removing the broken-off parts with your tweezers but don’t force it. If you leave it alone, your body will naturally expel it in a few days as part of the healing process.
Step 3: Clean the bite area
Clean the bite area with using alcohol wipes. If you don’t have alcohol wipes, you can use a bit of rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
Step 4: Store and/or dispose of the tick
After removing the tick from your skin, we recommend placing it in a plastic bag in case any symptoms develop in the following few days. If you don’t have anything to keep the tick in, then take a photo of the specimen before disposing of it.
Identifying the species of tick can help diagnose potential diseases. If you notice fever, chills, headaches, joint pain, stomach pain, or other unusual symptoms, bring the tick with you to see your doctor.
If you don’t have any symptoms after a few days, then you can safely dispose of the tick. Do not crush it with your fingers — instead, kill the tick by putting it in alcohol or flushing it down the toilet. You can also place it in a sealed bag or container, or wrap it tightly in tape, before throwing it away.
What NOT to Do When Removing a Tick:
- Do not handle ticks with your bare hands.
- Do not crush the tick.
- Do not try to scrape the tick off the skin.
- Do not use a hot match to burn the tick off the skin.
- Do not try to freeze the tick off the skin.
- Do not cover the tick with petroleum jelly or nail polish.
How to Remove a Tick from Pets
To remove a tick from your dog or cat, follow the same steps as above. Wear gloves and use tweezers to grab the head of the tick and pull it out in a straight, steady motion.
With pets that have longer or darker colored fur, you may need to push it aside or use a flashlight to give you more visibility around the bite area. You can use water or rubbing alcohol to flatten the fur around the tick. Keep the hair parted with one hand while using the other hand to pull the tick out.
Tick and Mosquito Control in NYC
Concerned about ticks and other biting insects on your property this season? Ticks are active in New York from the spring to the fall, especially in residential areas that are close to parks and wooded areas.
MMPC is one of NYC’s top-rated pest control companies, specializing in effective and eco-friendly pest management. We have over 25 years years of experience helping people keep their homes and yards safe from ticks, mosquitoes, and other biting insects.
Give us a call today at (212) 219-8218 or click the button below to email us and find out how we can help you solve your tick problems!