I have seen several blogs lately about wood ticks. Most of the advice is reasonably good. However, I take exception to some of the glib instructions about removing ticks in the backcountry. They all seem to be copied from the same source: “get a pair of tweezers and pull the tick out. If the head stays in, see your doctor”. It takes 2 weeks to get to see my doctor! Here is the way I remove an embedded tick with its head intact. My success rate is 100%.
For most body locations you can’t remove the tick yourself, so brief your partner. If you have fine-pointed medical tweezers, use them. Most hair-pulling drug store tweezers are too clumsy, you’re better off using your fingers.
- Carefully part the hair around the tick so you can get at it (ticks usually dig in to a hairy part). Spread the skin taut if necessary.
- If you have fine-pointed tweezers, insert them between the tick and the skin, otherwise grasp the tick very gently between thumb and forefinger, pushing down on the skin (long nails help). Try not to squeeze the body so as to prevent harmful bacteria from the tick entering your bloodstream. If the tick is engorged with blood, you should definitely use tweezers. By then you are probably at home. No tweezers; try sliding the tines of a fork between the skin and the engorged tick.
- Pull very carefully until the skin puckers slightly. Hold it there. In 15 to 30 seconds the tick will withdraw its head. Easy!
- If your a gadget fan look at Ticked Off. See also Tick Info.