The Best Way To Remove A Tick

 In Understanding Lyme

It’s scary enough to find a tick embedded in your (or your loved one’s) body. Trying to remove the barbed creature can be painful and messy. What’s worse, the biting part of the tick can remain attached as you attempt to pull it out.

That’s what can happen when you use the most commonly recommended method of tick removal – using tweezers to pull the tick out of the body.

kidsingarden-ulEarlier this year I learned of a different method of tick removal, and I’ve used it many times this year to remove ticks from myself, my family and my clients.

It’s what’s called the “Wet Q-tip Method,” because it involves rotating a Q-tip around and around the tick until it backs out all by itself.

The advantage of this method is that you don’t risk leaving the head and mouthparts in the body. This means there is less likelihood of inflammation due to the release of tick saliva into the body. It is clean, painless, and doesn’t leave a scab. Definitely superior to an all-out tug-of-war with tweezers!

Here’s the details for the Q-Tip Tick Removal Method:

  1. Get a Q-Tip, and moisten it with some oil. My favorite is clove essential oil, because this is repellant to the tick, it is anti-tick-borne-infection, and it’s what I rub into tick bites after removing the tick anyway. But any oil such as olive, coconut, or soap will do.
  2. Lyme-deer-tick-on-q-tip-mcWith your oily Q-tip, begin to rub in a circle around and around the tick, agitating it, making it rotate with the Q-tip until it backs out.
  3. Save the tick for testing, or flush it down the toilet, and toss your Q-tip into the garbage.

That’s it!

Check out this video at Lyme Channel on You Tube for a great visual demonstration of this technique:

Using this technique, tick removal is less traumatic, cleaner and safer. So keep those Q-tips handy (in your car, your medicine cabinet, your first aid kit) so you have it ready when you need it!

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Showing 12 comments
  • Nancy L. Seibel

    Hillary a couple of years ago, without knowing of the technique it occurred to me to do this same thing using tea tree oil to get a tick out of my dog’s “divit” – he’s a pug/Boston terrier mix. To my great surprise the tick just fell out. So I of course thought tea tree oil was the magic. Good to know clove oil might be a better choice and that in a pinch any oil will work.

  • Jennifer

    I love the tick lasso found here it gets e en the tiniest nymph out with not grasping squeezing etc…. I’m grateful to know you like clove oil for bites! I hope I do t ever need this info but in certainly glad to have it!

  • Gloria Flynn

    I’ve read that applying oil to the tick can stress it and cause it to release pathogens…. shouldn’t we just use a wet q-tip and apply oils to the bite once the tick is released? I have also used a drawing salve to a bite with good effect; the swelling around the area subsided within a few days. Thank you for sharing!

  • Sherri

    This did not work for us at all. I may be using a wrong technique, or something, but it looked like what the video shows. Our dog was getting agitated and angry and after several tries of two or three minutes each, we gave up and used tweezers. And it does look like that didn’t remove all the mouth parts so we treated the bite with alcohol and will keep an eye on the spot over the next several days.

    • Beanhead

      Didn’t work for me either. Had on embedded on my shoulder. Tried the oil on Q-tip thing for about 10 minutes. Nothing. Ended up using tweezers.

      • Hillary Thing

        Sorry to hear this didn’t work for you! Did you use clove oil or another kind of oil? I’m glad you got it out with tweezers!

  • annieohk

    I used a moistened (water) q-tip to remove a tick from my dog. It worked like a charm – I swirled the swab around the tick in a circular motion and it just came right out.

    • Hillary Thing

      I’m glad it came out. So many people try this method and don’t wait long enough, then panic and try to tear out the tick. An important next step we tell our patients is to clean the bite site with some soap and water or an a little alcohol, then apply some clove oil until any redness or swelling goes away.

  • Agnes

    I gotta favorite this website it seems handy extremely helpful.

    • Hillary Thing

      Hi Agnes. I am glad you like the site. Check out our Lyme prevention kit. It comes with a helpful document on next steps when bitten by a tick.

  • ...

    This didn’t work for me at all. I tried it multiple times, and nothing has happened, even after a whole day. Could somebody tell me how you got it to work?

    • Hillary Thing

      Sorry to hear this didn’t work for you! If you can’t get the tick to release with the wet Q-Tip method, you could try removing it with tweezers- but you just want to be careful to grasp it as close to the skin as possible and pull straight out so you don’t leave the head inside. A magnifying glass can help. Mainly Ticks makes a combined tweezer and magnifying glass product. Be sure to apply an herbal antimicrobial like clove essential oil to the bite afterward!

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