Step-by-step instructions for removing a tick

Ticks can be removed at home

Ticks are popping up in the Bluegrass, and local medical professionals are urging parents to check their children.

“Ticks are all different sizes, so giving your child and yourself a good once-over at the end of a day outside is important,” said Joseph A. Clan Jr., M.D., pediatrician with Norton Children’s Medical Group – Okolona.

Most ticks can be seen relatively easily, but they like to hide in hair on the scalp and warmer areas such as armpits or the groin. Dr. Clan advises that parents look for black bumps on the skin and scalp, as ticks will start to burrow into the skin two to three days after attaching to the body.

If you spot a tick, use the tried-and-true method to remove it.

“Home remedies are not recommended,” Dr. Clan said. “Using things like butter, dish soap and other strategies are not very effective and can cause skin irritation.”

Norton Children’s Medical Group, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine

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You can take a child to the pediatrician to remove a tick, but Dr. Clan said it can be done easily at home.

Proper technique for removing an attached tick

• If available, use tweezers or small forceps to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. In the absence of tweezers, use paper or a cloth to protect the fingers during tick extraction.
• Pull straight up gently but firmly, using steady pressure. Do not jerk or twist.
• Do not squeeze, crush or puncture the body of the tick, since its fluids may contain infectious agents.
• Disinfect the skin thoroughly after removing the tick, and wash your hands with soap and water.
• If sections of the tick’s mouthparts remain in the skin, leave them alone. They normally will come out on their own.
• Since the tick usually needs to be attached for two to three days before transmission of disease, removing the tick within this time frame often prevents infection.
• In the coming days, keep an eye on the area for a rash or irritation.

“In rare cases, swelling and redness may develop at the site of the bite — a sign there could be an infection,” Dr. Clan said. “If that happens, see your physician for possible treatment, which may include an antibiotic.”