Frequently Asked Questions : Get TickSmart! Use our TickSmart categories to find appropriate links to additional content in TERC.

Tick Removal

1. I've tried to find pointy TickEncounter tweezers at my local CVS but they didn't have any? Where can I find them?

TERC Answer: In 2010, we launched our now popular How To Remove A Tick video on YouTube. At that time, TERC had partnered with CVS to offer pointy tick removal tweezers. Unfortunately, these specific tweezers are no longer available but you can look in the beauty section at CVS for Tweezerman Point Tweezers which offer the same precise tick removal ability. You also might like the unique dual tick removal function of the TickEase tweezer, or the magnifier on the ProTickMe tweezer. All of these tweezers will help you remove a tick safely.

2. How strong a grip does a Blacklegged tick have on clothing or skin before becoming imbedded into skin? Also, how quickly can ticks transfer from grass or leaves to hosts?

TERC Answer: Ticks have hook-like claws at the tips of each of its 8 legs to help it hold on to a host fur (or clothing/skin) prior to inserting its hypostome (mouth piece) into the skin. However, it is quite easy to remove ticks from skin or clothing prior to attachment - they often get brushed off of clothing while walking through vegetation. Blacklegged ticks typically wait on low vegetation or edges of leaves on the forest floor for a host to come by. Vibration, carbon dioxide and heat all can stimulate the tick to assume a 'ready' position. It grabs on very quickly with its fore legs and will begin climbing upwards to find an attachment site.

3. Please comment on the following that my brother in New Hampshire received by e-mail. Many members of my family in New England, Quebec and Ontario need your expert feedback.

Subject: Fwd: Lots of ticks now until Mid-July; Tick Removal, with Lyme disease on the rise, take heed: A nurse discovered a safe, easy way to remove ticks where they automatically withdraw themselves when you follow her simple instructions. Read this one as it could save you from some major problems. Apply a glob of liquid soap to a cotton ball. Cover the tick with the soap-soaked cotton ball and swab it for a few seconds (15-20); the tick will come out on its own and be stuck to the cotton ball when you lift it away.

TERC Answer: This email has been circulating for several years now. About 2 years ago, TickEncounter did test this strategy for removing all kinds of ticks – nymphal and adult deer ticks, adult dog ticks, Lone Star ticks – we allowed ticks to attach for 18-24 hrs (so they were feeding) and then followed the procedure exactly as well as made some modifications (longer soap soaking time). In the end, we were never able to remove a single tick. In our experience, a pointy tweezer is the single most efficient tool for removing ALL types and sizes of ticks. Some of the other devices that are marketed may work for adult stage ticks but not so well on nymphs, or to remove ticks on smooth body surfaces but not so much on difficult surfaces (especially in the groin). If you haven't seen it already, take a look at our how to remove a tick safely video.

If you and your family and friends always wear Tick Repellent Clothing, hopefully you will never have a tick bite. But if you do, now you know a great strategy.

4. If during the removal process you leave the head (or even more parts) in your skin except the belly, is there a chance that what got left inside will keep on living and even crawling under your skin or even deeper in your body? What are the chances that your body will expel the remaining parts of the tick's body and not let it embed in your skin? The reason for that I am asking this question because couple of days ago I removed a tick from my upper arm but not completely, the wound seem to be healing, there is still a small red 2 mm dia. dot on my arm but at this stage it is hard to believe that the remaining parts would likely surface. How long a tick head or even more parts if any stays under your skin before it gets ejected if ever? Geza L., Hungary

Mouthparts: Palps Chelicerae Hypostome

TERC Answer: This is something that concerns many people but it is just not possible for ticks to 1) continue living once they have been ripped in two; and 2) for them to embed any more than their mouthpart (hypostome) into your skin (please refer to picture in tick biteology). The little red mark you mention is just inflammation around the tick mouthpart that remains. Eventually this will be pushed out much like a splinter would be. You probably want to keep an eye on the bite area just in case the tick had transmitted a disease-causing pathogen while it was intact and feeding on you.

Take a look at our how to remove a tick safely video and try to always have a pointy tweezer available for tick removal.

5. I've been on the web for over 15 minutes, and I'm finding very little about the correct way to kill a tick once you've removed it from yourself or a pet in your home. Could you please clear this up for me? Lyla R., Bath ME

TERC Answer: Back in the day, every family seemed to have their own favorite way of dispatching a found, attached tick (flushing, burning, smashing, etc). Our TickSmart™ Best Practice upon removing a tick from people (or even pets), is to tape it to an index card with the date it was attached and then try to identify what type of tick was biting. Knowing the type of tick biting can help make decisions about prevention. Alternatively, you could put it in a sealed ziplock bag and send it to be tested if you are concerned about transmission/potential infection. Once the tick is secure, it won't be too long before it dies anyway (from dessication). If there are no symptoms or other consequence that develop, say within 2-3 months of the bite, you could just discard the tick card or baggie in the trash. We're pretty confident that the tick will be very dead!

6. My kids spend almost all day in the pool. Will that kill any ticks that might be attached? Hopeful Mom, Greenwich CT

TERC Answer: While we don't have a definite answer to your question, in June 2014 we did a little experiment where we submerged nymphal and adult stage deer ticks and dog ticks in a well-maintained backyard pool (water temp 67 F) for 12 hours. The ticks weren't attached to anyone but were contained in vials flooded with pool water and left to sink to the bottom. All (100%) of the nymph deer ticks and adult dog ticks survived just fine, as did 87.5% of the adult stage deer ticks. At the very least, it seems that chemically-treated pool water had no real impact on these ticks.

The act of having most of their clothes off making it easier to spot any attached ticks could make swimming somewhat of a tick bite protective activity for the whole family. But someone still has to look for those tiny ticks!

Disclaimer: TickEncounter Resource Center FAQ answers come from a variety of expert sources, including Dr. Mather’s nearly 30 years of active tick research and study of tick-borne disease prevention. Our mission is to engage, educate and empower people to take tick bite protection and disease prevention actions. TERC staff are not medical doctors and do not diagnose tick-borne disease or make treatment recommendations. If you are experiencing disease symptoms, please consult a knowledgeable medical doctor to determine treatment methods best for your situation.