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First Aid: Tick Bites


First Aid

Most tick bites are harmless and don't need medical treatment. But some ticks (like the deer tick, wood tick, and others) can carry harmful germs that cause diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease. The deer tick is tiny, no larger than a pencil point. Other ticks are larger and easier to find on the skin.

How Do I Remove a Tick?

It's important to remove a tick as soon as possible. Follow these steps:

  1. Use tweezers to grasp the tick firmly at its head or mouth, next to the skin.
  2. Pull firmly and steadily until the tick lets go of the skin. Do not twist the tick or rock it from side to side. If part of the tick stays in the skin, don't worry. It will eventually come out on its own.Illustration
  3. Release the tick into a jar or zip-locked bag in case you want to have it identified later on.
  4. Wash your hands and the site of the bite with soap and water.
  5. Swab the bite site with alcohol.

Never use petroleum jelly or a hot match to kill and remove a tick. These methods don't get the tick off the skin, and can cause it to burrow deeper and release more saliva (which increases the chances of disease transmission).

What Are the Signs of Tick-Related Diseases?

Watch out for:

When Should I Get Medical Care?

Call your health care provider if:

How Can I Protect My Kids From Ticks?

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: April 2014


Note: All information on KidsHealth® is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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