HOW TO PROPERLY REMOVE A TICK
With a pair of fine point tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull outward with a slow, even force, pulling in the opposite direction to how the tick entered the skin.
DO NOT JERK OR TWIST THE TICK. This might tear the head and mouth parts from the tick's body and will encourage the ticks fluid to enter your blood stream or skin.
DO NOT USE YOUR FINGERS TO REMOVE THE TICK. Squeezing the tick could cause it to disgorge its contents into the wound. You can contract Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and possibly other tick borne diseases simply by handling ticks and having their excretions absorbed through your skin.
DO NOT ATTEMPT TO REMOVE THE TICK WITH CHEMICALS (such as nail polish remover, soap, kerosene, oils, etc) OR BY HEATING THE TICKS WITH A MATCH. This can kill the tick before it disengages its mouthparts. It can also cause the tick to regurgitate into the bite wound, increasing the likelihood of transmitting diseases.
WASH THE TICK ATTACHMENT SITE. Use warm soapy water and rubbing alcohol. You can apply an antibacterial ointment like Neosporin afterwards to help protect the bite site from additional contamination.
SAVE THE TICK. If you want to send it for testing- place it in a small sealed ziplock bag with a very slightly damp cotton ball (not wet). Keep it in the refrigerator until you are ready to ship it. Remember- testing a tick does not guarantee any organisms will be detected.
NEVER wait for the results to come back before being treated. Tick Testing Lab Information Here.
DO NOT WAIT. Do NOT wait for a rash to appear before being treated (less than 50% of people bitten in Maryland report a rash and less than 10% of children nationwide have a rash). Do NOT wait for the disease to spread and cause symptoms. Dr. Joseph Burrascano, Jr. recommends treating the bite as soon as possible. (See official recommendations below.)
The OLD one dose of Doxycycline theory- which some health care professionals may try to pass off as curative- has been shown to NOT be effective and that study has been debunked. Use your good common sense- one dose of antibiotics will not kill any infectious disease that can spread throughout your body in a manner of hours. Get it right, treat the bite!
TAKE THE TICK WITH YOU TO YOUR DOCTOR. Some medical professionals will insist on seeing the tick. You need to know that it doesn't matter what kind of tick bit you, especially in a highly endemic areas. They can all carry diseases.
For example, Lyme disease isn't only found in deer ticks and RMSF isn't just in lone star ticks as some may try to tell you. Deer ticks have recently been found to harbor 91 different organisms. See "update" below.
EARLY TREATMENT IS YOUR BEST DEFENSE. In some areas of Maryland the Lyme infection rate in ticks is as high as 82%. Bartonella, Babesia, Ehrlichia, Spotted Fevers, Anaplasmosis, Mycoplasma and STARI are some of the many diseases ticks in Maryland can carry.
Doxycycline, prescribed for an adequate length of time, is the preferred treatment (barring any contra-indicators) as it will address most of the infections you may be exposed to (Babesia/Mycoplasma being the exceptions). More information here on tick borne diseases including symptoms, diagnostic methods and treatment protocols.
TAKE ALL PRESCRIBED MEDICATIONS EVEN IF YOU FEEL FINE. When taking doxycycline (and other antibiotics) ask your doctor if you can take it with food rather than on an empty stomach.
To help prevent yeast infections and to enjoy continued good digestive health, taking a good quality pro-biotic can help both during and for a while after treatment.
Caution- avoid sun exposure while on antibiotics (some worse than others). Sunburns can come on quickly and be very bad to extreme. Read all literature that comes with your prescribed medications and if you have questions contact your pharmacist. Avoid using calcium products (milk, cheese, supplements including Tums, Rolaids, etc) when taking your antibiotics as they tend to slightly decrease the ability of the antibiotic to be absorbed.
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS. Note to women- antibiotics may reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills, so you may want to consider using additional precautions.
Some mainstream medical literature reports Lyme can not be transmitted from person to person. When asked, the Maryland Health Department inaccurately stated Lyme can not be sexually transmitted because "there has not been a documented case".
The spirochetes that cause Lyme disease are similar to the ones that cause syphilis. Spirochetes have been detected in semen, the uterus, breast milk, blood and other body fluids.
Front-line physicians who treat many Lyme patients often will test sexual partners who become ill with Lyme disease and will treat partners to prevent the possibility of back-and-forth transmission that can and has occurred.
Update 2016- Sexual transmission has been confirmed. Sources
See more information at
UPDATE- May 2017
Notes, from what I understand and because we have people asking...
Adult male ticks may attach themselves to you or an animal (because they are stupid?), but they do not need to have a blood meal. Adult females require a blood meal to be able to reproduce. Could adult males still pass along disease causing organisms while attached? It is very possible.
QUOTE- "Determination of the tick's gender is important because adult male ticks, although they may attach, do not take a blood meal and therefore cannot transmit pathogens. It is very likely that any ticks you discover embedded on a human or animal are female." Source
Larval and nymph ticks are not male or female (like alligators still in the eggs before hatching). Once nymph ticks molt into an adult their sex is determined and can be checked.
It is difficult for nymph tick species to be identified, even for many of the experts.
Some people claim only a "deer tick" can pass on Lyme organisms, and only a lone star tick can pass on RMSF, etc. Blah, blah, blah.
Each year new studies show that a specific disease organism once thought to be only found in one type of tick is found in another type.
Unfortunately, those who made the earlier WRONG claims (IDSA/CDC etc.) don't like to come out and say they were wrong, so it is often not brought to anyones attention and if it is it can be years or decades before it is published or accepted.
For example- The tiniest ticks (seed ticks or larval) were said not to be carrying any diseases. WRONG! They have been shown to have Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi) spirochetes, a relapsing fever spirochete (Borrelia miyamotoi) and more. Borrelia miyamotoi infection will not show up on the standard Lyme tests. Check here for more information.
Tests for diseases in ticks and humans is notoriously flawed. Do not trust any negative tick test or human test result. Assume the worst in the beginning so it doesn't consume or destroy you later.
There are new strains and species of ticks and disease causing organisms discovered every year. For example- so far this year about 17 new strains of spotted fever (Rickettsia) have been identified (2017). Some were found high on mountain tops in Brazil, some in other areas where they aren't suspected to be, like in your own backyard.
There are organisms in ticks that we haven't even identified yet, and more known species/strains for which no tests have been developed and marketed. The deer tick was recently found to harbor 91 different organisms. Yes, wow on that!
My point- please suspect that ANY tick could be a problem.
Treat The Bite immediately for your best chance of preventing Lyme or other TBD's from getting a hold of you! See www.TreatTheBite.com for official treatment recommendations for a tick bite.
Updated by LB- March 2019
From the Treatment Guidelines
(Dr. Joseph Burrascano)
TICK BITES - Embedded Deer Tick With No Signs or Symptoms of Lyme (see appendix):
Decide to treat based on the type of tick, whether it came from an endemic area, how it was removed, and length of attachment (anecdotally, as little as four hours of attachment can transmit pathogens).
The risk of transmission is greater if the tick is engorged, or of it was removed improperly allowing the tick's contents to spill into the bite wound. High-risk bites are treated as follows (remember the possibility of co-infection!):
1) Adults: Oral therapy for 28 days.
2) Pregnancy: Amoxicillin 1000 mg q6h for 6 weeks. Test for Babesia, Bartonella and Ehrlichia.
Alternative: Cefuroxime axetil 1000 mg q12h for 6 weeks.
3) Young Children: Oral therapy for 28 days.
EARLY LOCALIZED - Single erythema migrans with no constitutional symptoms:
1) Adults: oral therapy- must continue until symptom and sign free for at least one month, with a 6 week minimum.
2) Pregnancy: 1st and 2nd trimesters: I.V. X 30 days then oral X 6 weeks 3rd trimester: Oral therapy X 6+ weeks as above.
Any trimester- test for Babesia and Ehrlichia
3) Children: oral therapy for 6+ weeks.
Dr. Burrascano's Treatment Guidelines
Close-Up Photos of Ticks