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: Use tweezers to grasp the tick firmly at its head or mouth, next to the skin. Pull firmly and steadily until the tick lets go of the skin. Do not twist the tick or rock it from side to side. Parts of the tick might stay in the skin, but eventually will come out on their own. Wash your hands and the site of the bite with soap and water. Swab the bite site with alcohol. Note: 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 make it burrow deeper and release more saliva (which makes it more likely to pass a disease). What Are the Signs of Tick-Related Diseases? Watch out for: a red bump ringed by an expanding red rash, which looks like a bull's-eye (Lyme disease) red dots on the ankles and wrists (Rocky Mountain spotted fever) flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, tiredness, vomiting, and muscle and joint aches When Should I Call the Doctor? Call your doctor if: The tick might have been on the skin for more than 24 hours. Part of the tick remains in the skin. A rash of any kind develops (especially a red-ringed bull's-eye rash or red dots on wrists and ankles). The bite area looks infected (increasing warmth, swelling, pain, or oozing pus). Symptoms like fever, headache, tiredness, stiff neck or back, or muscle or joint aches develop. How Can I Protect My Kids From Ticks? After kids play outside, check their skin and hair — especially the scalp, behind the ears, around the neck, in the eyebrows and eyelashes, and under the arms. When playing in wooded areas, kids should wear long-sleeved shirts and pants and tuck pant legs into their socks. Use an insect repellent with at least 10% to 30% DEET for protection against bites and stings in kids older than 2 years. Always carefully follow the label directions for applying. Avoid tick-infested areas. Back to Articles Related Articles Tick Removal: A Step-by-Step Guide Boy, your child's freckles really stand out in the sun — yikes, that one is actually a tick! What should you do? Read More Hey! A Tick Bit Me! A tick attaches itself to the skin of a person or animal and sucks blood. If you have a dog, it may have picked up a tick before! Learn more about ticks in this article for kids. Read More How Can I Protect My Family From Ticks? Find out what the experts say. Read More Lyme Disease Lyme disease can be treated if it's caught early. Find out what causes it, how it's treated, and how to prevent it. Read More Lyme Disease Lyme disease can affect the skin, joints, nervous system, and other organ systems. If Lyme disease is diagnosed quickly and treated with antibiotics, most people feel better quickly. Read More Lyme Disease The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to prevent tick bites. Find out more about this disease and how to keep those ticks away. Read More Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Rocky Mountain spotted fever is an infection spread by ticks. Find out more about it - including how to prevent it. Read More Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is a disease caused by a bacteria that is carried by certain types of ticks. Learn about the signs and symptoms of RMSF and tips for preventing infection in this article. Read More First Aid: Stiff Neck A stiff neck is usually nothing to worry about. In rare cases, it can be a sign of something serious. Here's what to do about a stiff neck. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.