Tick Removers: Which Do You Use?

“Uh, I think I snapped it…”

I got my first tick on the BBG camping trip. I was lucky. I didn’t even know it was there until it was gone. I brushed it off in the shower somehow without leaving any of the tick in my body *knock wood*. My completely uneducated guess is the hot water must have shocked the little bugger, and when I inadvertently passed my hand over him, he backed out and/or fell out because he had yet to burrow? (if you’re a tick expert, feel free to weigh in).

Next time, I won’t be so lucky, which is why I’m going to: a) use bug spray, and b) pick up a legit tick remover just in case. Cause there’s no way I’m going to try the above method.

Here’s a series of tick removers, including one that uses cryotherapy. I’m tempted to buy the one with a mini-lasso and just call it a day. Before I do, though, please feel free to chime in with any suggestions, experiences or links to videos of yourself removing ticks.

tickner.jpg
Tickner
(“My name is Freeze. Learn it well. For it’s the chilling sound of your doom.”)
ticked off.jpg
Tickoffcase.jpg
Tick Off
(battery-operated)
tick key.jpg
Tick Key
(comes in a variety of colors)
trix_tick2sm.jpg
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50 Responses to Tick Removers: Which Do You Use?

  1. scott says:

    Yeah, what’s the big deal about just pulling them out? is that dangerous or something?

    When I was a kid, we lived in the woods (uh, I mean in a House in the woods) and my brother and I (and our dogs) were constantly covered with ticks. We pulled ‘em off by hand and that was that. they itched a while, but that’s what living in the woods is all about – scratching.

    The worst ones were the ticks that had managed to live on the dogs for a while. They’d swell up and when you crushed them they’d pop. Little blood balloons. Yech.

  2. Ranilen says:

    Wow, there’s some really bad advice in this comment thread. Like a few people have mentioned, anything that irritates the tick (e.g. fire, chemicals) makes it release lubrication, which in turn raises your risk of infections. If you try to just grab it with your fingers, or grab its body instead of its head with tweezers, you’ll squeeze its guts into your bloodstream, and probably leave the head buried in you.

    Anything that manages to grab the ticks head and pull it straight out with a minimum of irritation is worth a try-fine tweezers, that lasso, fishing line and a mechanical pencil are all golden. Not sure about the cryotherapy-seems like after using it, you would still just have to use tweezers to get it out, but maybe its worth it to cut down on the saliva released even while pulling the tick straight out.

  3. LagerVsAle says:

    Just want to reiterate that many of the comments here are just plain wrong. Never use any thing to “suffacate” the tick or any method to “make him want to leave” ie the lit match or cig. These methods can cause the tick to expell its nasty ooze right into you increasing the chance of infection. Fingers can work with dog ticks, but often the head will stay behind. I’ve had good luck using the Ticked-Off brand, it’s a v-notched spoon so no chance of squishing the tick, though using it in hairy areas or on a pet is tricky as hair will also get caught in the notch.

  4. hardo says:

    Witchcraft always worked for me!

  5. Doomstalk says:

    The picture of the engorged tick makes me cringe.

  6. Rick says:

    Ticks (two primary types- wood tick and the tiny deer tick) will crawl around for about 36 hrs before they attach themselves. The possibility of a tick borne disease is at the end of the attachment cycle. (I’ve been treated for Lyme’s disease twice, once the tick was at the top of a blood filled welt, the second time I had the circular rash). There are several other tick borne diseases, but the percentage of carrier ticks varies- so you are not always infected by a tick bite. Untreated Lyme’s however can be quite serious.

  7. Rtarara says:

    You can just pull it off. Make sure you pul from the ticks head. If it’s stuck good then use a match and it will back out. no need for fancy devices you’ll probably lose. I grew up very in a very rural area and survived tick season fine each year doing this.

    PS save the tick in a plastic bag with the date on it in case you get sick. They do carry disease sometimes and it’s good to still have the tick.

  8. Enochrewt says:

    #25: How is using something like alcohol bad? Just curious, because I was always taught to cover it with something like Vaseline to make it back out to breath. I would think alcohol, rubbing or otherwise,would act as an antiseptic(Ok, maybe not Puckers or something else wussy and sugary) and would keep the site clean.

    I was always told that pulling them out was a very bad idea. If you “break” the tick, you get all of the germs, bacteria, and other yucky stuff that comes from the inside of a tick into the open wound that the tick created.

  9. JVS says:

    1) We’ve had good luck with a “Tick Twister” —
    http://www.ticktwister.com/
    Yes, it’s a gadget; It gets down to the jaws, so when you twist the tick out, you don’t risk leaving the head or jaws embedded.

    2) We find the simplest way to ensure that the tick is out of commission is to stick it on scotch tape, then cover it over so it’s completely enveloped. I’ve seen a tick that had been flushed actually climb back up the toilet. I found him in questing mode on the toilet seat. Tough little critters.

  10. Marko says:

    In Vietnam the solders used flea and tick collars, the ones for dogs and cats, to prevent them in the first place.
    If they didn’t wear them they had a ring of ticks around the top of their boot below where they bloused their pants.

  11. Steven Leckart says:

    Scott: GREAT idea. Do you have pics or video you can post here or email me?

    steven AT boingboing DOT net

  12. Omission says:

    I had several test-runs removing ticks from dogs before I had to remove one from my own leg (with tweezers). The first few times I squished the body or left the mouthparts inside (dogs are happy and healthy, thank goodness), but I finally settled on a technique that works.
    1) place tweezers firmly as close to skin as possible, around mouthparts.
    2) pull firmly away from the skin: the tick will resist, but eventually give in and detach.
    3) drop tick in alcohol to kill.

    From what I understand, it’s held in by a kind of cement that it can dissolve to detach: the idea is to pull until it detaches of its own “will”, rather than to forcibly rmove it.

  13. Anonymous says:

    The best way is this:
    Go see your doctor. Your co-pay will be $5-$25 and he can draw blood to check for any disease or infection you might have picked up.
    This is as cheep as buying a “tick remover” and safer than any “home remedy”, not to mention, with the advent of infection or disease, it is cheaper in the long run to just have it all done right.

    And people wonder why per-capita healthcare spending has gone up over 700% since 1950…

  14. trjames says:

    Grab and pull. With fingers.

  15. m00nch1ld says:

    Living in a high-risk lyme disease area, ticks are actually quite dangerous hereabout. NEVER use any liquid to make it “want to come out and breathe”, because that’s a sure way to increase infection risk hundredfold. Also, in certain parts of Europe, encephalitis is definitly on the rise – vaccinate, if you go there.
    And to remove a tick the safe way, just grab some flat-nosed tweezers. Use a scalpel if anything remains under the skin, and use iodine or something similar afterwards. Having had lyme disease once, I can tell you, it’s no fun.

  16. Ito Kagehisa says:

    If a tick bite leaves any sort of mark or inflammation larger than the tip of a pencil, SEE YOUR DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY.

    The bullseye rash is actually fairly uncommon. I know several people who’ve been treated for lyme disease four or five times without every having a bullseye rash. I have never gotten the bullseye myself.

    Treatement for lymes disease is unpleasant because you have to be saturated with antibiotics, and this throws your intestinal flora out of balance. I recommend yoghurt and kombucha (live cultures or it won’t help) daily starting a week after the beginning of your antibiotic treatment. Worked for me!

    A normal tick bite leaves a tiny red dot on your skin. ANYTHING else is cause for concern and immediate treatment.

    Some of the gadgets look useable, but I’ve already got enough stuff in my pockets.

  17. Freddie Freelance says:

    A lit cigarette always worked for me, but I haven’t had a tick since I quit smoking.

  18. Kathy Stence says:

    Actually, from the sounds of the comments posted, there are lots of folks out there who do not know the dangers of ticks or the ramifications of not removing one properly. Lyme disease is actually a pretty serious illness, especialy if left untreated…so I’d suggest a gadget that’s not even featured called the “Pro tick rememdy”. NEVER put anything on a tick (nail poslish remover, vaseline, soap, etc) as it makes the tick mad and it is more likely to spew its bacteria into your body. For more info about tick removal, go to http://www.Lyme Disease Association.org or igenix.com

  19. gwax says:

    I have never had any trouble removing ticks with my bare hands. I know this is a gadget blog but, honestly, those gadgets solve a problem that hardly exists in the first place.

    If you want a good technique, try this: http://www.wonderhowto.com/how-to/video/how-to-remove-a-tick-from-a-dog-by-making-it-dizzy-175615/ (works just as well on people too)

  20. MooseDesign says:

    Growing up in Virginia it was pretty common to get ticks (and chiggers, which were worse IMO).

    The four techniques that we employed, in no particular order were:
    1. just pull it out if it hadn’t burrowed in well
    2. light a match and hold it up to the tick so it backs out
    3. soak with rubbing alcohol, and
    4. cover it in Vaseline, supposedly to asphyxiate it. but honestly I can’t remember if that ever actually worked or not.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I was taught that if you twisted them out anti-clockwise they would come out cleanly, because they screw themselves in clockwise. Not sure if that is scientifically valid, but it always worked when we went to the farm and had to get them out. If the head didn’t come out cleanly we’d just put this stuff called ‘black ointment’ on it and that seemed to do the trick.

  22. leilafile says:

    A few years ago our two dogs went visiting with our two sons to another house with dogs and brought home a tick infestation. Ticks were everywhere. We all lost our squeamishness very soon. We would pull off as many as we could find (with fingers and at the same angle as the tick body) about twice a day and then drop them in the toilet. We flushed in batches.

    Many times we came across two of them “doin’ it” buggy style. The female would be the one “drinking up” presumably so she could get up the strength to go lay some more eggs everywhere in the house.

    So you got both of them when you pulled her out.

    Guy ticks? When the huge engorged female began to sink in the toilet, he was outta there and up to the surface like Ted Kennedy. Had there been a small reporter on the scene, no doubt the guy tick would have been quoted as, “going to get help.”

    Sorry guys, had to share!

    Snort!!! :) !!!

  23. Mycroft says:

    I always just use my fingers. We have a god awful amount of ticks around here (eastern Long Island) since we have such a god awful amount of deer and as I work outside and pull the damned things off me all the time. How I haven’t gotten lyme or some other screwed up tick sickness, I don’t know. But just yanking them out with my fingers has always worked fine.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Tick Removal is serious. The more you traumatize a tick, the more toxins it will expel into the host. The best tick removal device is the Tick Key… http://www.TickKey.com. Simply put the large hole over the tick and pull. The natural forward leverage removes the tick head and all. The Tick Key fits on a keyring or pet’s collar so you don’t lose it. It is 99.9% effective. It is dangerous to traumatize a tick. Vaseline, cigarette lighters, etc. are not safe. The Tick Key comes in 7 different colors. It can be laser engraved. And, it can also be a pet’s ID tag. This is the premier tick removal device. It is a green product as the annodizing is organic and it is made in the USA. Go to their website and watch the video.

  25. Anonymous says:

    If you want to find a comment from the “recent comments” panel and the links don’t work, just GO BACK IN TIME WHORP WHORP WHORP and the links magically work again. Been this way for a while.

  26. Uncle Geo says:

    I’ve heard this patch:

    http://www.rid-a-tick.com/details.htm

    works really well, though I’d bet a patch of duct or gaffers tape would work as well. It suffocates the little buggers and they let go. Fold it up when he goes tits up and save it in case you need to show him to the doc.

    My lads and I got bit plenty in Scouts. We’d always come back from a trip anywhere in “Sota or ‘Sconsin with at least one kid or adult getting Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or Lyme disease. One kid got very sick from Lyme disease that went untreated for a couple of weeks. We caught my son’s case within a day and in time for the antibiotic course.

    Lyme ticks are miniscule -about the size of a period like this one here. You get a red bullseye rash around the bite -if you see that, go to the docpronto mucho!

  27. pacifisticuff says:

    So how do you get a tick on your toe in the first place? I think the hot match/cig is the way to go, unless you are looking for a more humane tick removal tool.

    @Scott- I was always told you didn’t want to pull on them in case you squooshed a little bit of tick back into you.

  28. Scott says:

    I built a copy of the lasso type with an old mechanical pencil and a loop of fishing line. Since the tick is teardrop shaped the loop slides down his body as you tighten it and grips around his head. Twist him off and he tears free whole and uninjured. Then torch the bastard. Use this method on my dogs all the time, hasn’t failed yet.

  29. geeb says:

    Best and Safest Tick remover is the Scientifically proven Trix Tick Remover, found on Ebay with all the other inferior ones. The Trix has been tested and is produced in Sweden, imported to the US.It removes the entire Tick, not just the body.You never want to leave a Tick head embedded, it spews out all the bad stuff and can really cause some serious health problems. See a video at http://www.tickremover.com. I’ve used it and it is easier than I thought it would be, weighs less than an ounce and looks like a Pen. It’s Great to take on a trip in the woods, hunting etc. Under $10 on Ebay!!

  30. Spike the Dingo says:

    Pull off the insect with your fingers.

  31. RevLee says:

    Tweezers. According to the CDC using the various home remedies increase the risk of infection.

    Note: Folklore remedies such as petroleum jelly or hot matches do little to encourage a tick to detach from skin. In fact, they may make matters worse by irritating the tick and stimulating it to release additional saliva, increasing the chances of transmitting the pathogen. These methods of tick removal should be avoided. In addition, a number of tick removal devices have been marketed, but none are better than a plain set of fine tipped tweezers.

  32. Anonymous says:

    In Germany, ticks are dime-a-dozen (pfennig fur zwolf?) because of the large deer populations across the country. Dogs always come out of the woods with one or two hanging off them – in fact, all the animals I know have to be regularly checked out. the best grabbers I found were a bit like one of those things for grabbing olives, but made of tough plasitc and only 2 prongs. Once you’ve grabbed the head (gotta grab the head!) it pops out with a few twists. Even my ferret submits to this without complaint!

  33. Anonymous says:

    #36 this is bad because using alcohol, Vaseline, or any chemical or something… Maybe even submursion in water – will irritate the tick. When agitated it will release additional saliva, which is what transmits Lyme disease.

  34. Anonymous says:

    I agree with the most common suggestion: a good pair of tweezers works just fine.

    The county I live in is literally ground-zero for lyme disease (highest incident rate in the world, but these are caused by deer ticks, not dog ticks, and a bit harder to get out), and ticks are so common that whenever the kids go out in the woods at my daughter’s school they always do a tick-check afterwords, and usually find a few. Tweezers are all they need.

  35. LiquidOC says:

    I just use tweezers, grab the head, and yank. If there’s something left in there, I dig it out with the blade of my pocket knife. If I can’t get it all out, I just douse it with rubbing alcohol (or whatever cleansing solution I have available like peroxide or whatever) but I’ve only had to dig it out with the knife once. I used to pick ‘em off my dog (RIP Finster) all the time with tweezers, but I would occasionally grab a hair too, and he sure didn’t like that.

  36. cinemajay says:

    When I was a kid, my mom just used her hands. And then she’d quash it with a lit cigarette. That will teach it!

  37. Anonymous says:

    Like a few people have mentioned, it is way simpler to put something on that will make the tick come out to breathe — liquid soap, dishwashing soap, glycerine, bubble soap, alcohol, vaseline, you name it. It’s *really* simple.

    Every mechanical method, and every method that might harm the tick (knife, hot knife, cigarette), all have the same weakness, namely that accidentally breaking off a piece of the tick inside of you can cause a really bad infection.

  38. Finchypoo says:

    I can only think of the poor people who have to go get bitten by ticks in order to test these devices.

  39. Anonymous says:

    For a bunch of nerds I’m sure reading a lot of urban lore twaddle. I guess thats the problem, /urban/ doesnt really cover ticks :p Doesn’t anyone googleanymore? See number 22, the first poster with any sense. Twisting, bad. You’ll twist the damn things body off and leave the head in there. May increase the risk of forcing juice from the bugger into your body. Soap and petroleum jelly, anything to “suffocate” it, bad. Saliva generation, as mentioned increases risk of infection. Also you’re liable to kill it before it backs out.

    I have no exerience with any tool, but have always had success using my fingers. Better than removal though is prevention. Do a tick check regularly and especially before going to bed. inspect all those creases they love – between toes, armpits, crotch, behind the knees.

  40. gabrielm says:

    Evildoers, you face The Tick. SPOON!

  41. Jon Bristow says:

    In Scouts we always just put a knife over a match for a few seconds, then lay it flat against the back of the tick.

    The tick gets uncomfortable and backs out, and then you squish him.

  42. trippcook says:

    Fingers.

    We had a long-haired dog when I grew up, and we lived in the mountains. When we’d go away for vacation, he’d have dozens and dozens of ticks. We’d pick them off … here’s a trick. A cup with a little Dawn dishwashing liquid in it. Drop the ticks in there and it’s instant death. You can just pick and drop.

  43. Mat Honan says:

    Fingers.

  44. Clayton says:

    In Scouts, I was taught to just cover the damn thing w/ a layer of Vasaline (if you got it) or submerge it under water. That’s what I think happened when you were in the shower. The reason the tick popped out is because they breathe through the tiny holes in their skin. By submerging it in water or covering it with Vasaline, it smothers the tick and it comes out to try and breath. Thats when you squish the thing for making you feel filthy and used.

  45. toxonix says:

    The only thing to do is remove it completely, as soon as you see it. Every attempt at suffocating or irritating the tick increases the risk of infection. Alcohol, gas, matches, jelly, etc.. may be effective occasionally, but when they dig in there they must be cut out. Depending on where they bite you they can get their bodies halfway down in there so you can see just the back legs. This has happened a few times to me, and once I had to be treated for Lyme’s disease. Luckily I got on antibiotics within the first 36 hours or so. I have a friend and a cousin who were not so lucky. I made the mistake of trying to drown it in alcohol, which probably just killed it, then tried to burn it out, which probably killed it if it wasn’t already dead. Eventually I had to go in with a scalpel and dig around for its parts. It lost a leg and its head. Just for fun, the guy at the ER went in and cut out a bunch more, but said he didn’t find anything else.
    Nasty buggers. Bugs breath through their exoskeletons, so solvents etc will probably kill them.

  46. Alan says:

    I’ve rubbed them with alcohol, and they back out so they can breathe. Then you kill ‘em! A few alcohol wipes isn’t a bad thing to carry on a hiking/camping trip, anyway.

    When I was a kid we had a family friend that burned ticks off his dog’s ear with a cigarette. Then again, he lived in a trailer.

    I miss the trailer park.

  47. Bonds says:

    your lucky it wasnt stuck on your D-i-c-k

  48. lietkynes says:

    Lyme’s is not the only disease that ticks carry. See Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever which killed more than 50 people in Turkey since 2008. Regarding CCHF, the important thing is to remove it before it finishes sucking while making sure you don’t irritate the tick or squish its body. Of course it better to completely remove the tick but letting the head remain is OK compared to getting CCHF.

  49. Mordt says:

    The best way is this:
    Go see your doctor. Your co-pay will be $5-$25 and he can draw blood to check for any disease or infection you might have picked up.
    This is as cheep as buying a “tick remover” and safer than any “home remedy”, not to mention, with the advent of infection or disease, it is cheaper in the long run to just have it all done right.

  50. muteboy says:

    Liquid soap on a cotton ball, no tweezers required: http://www.ehow.com/how_5014194_remove-ticks-tweezers.html

    I also read somewhere that if you just twirl the tick around, it gets dizzy and lets go. That could be balls though.

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