How To Remove a Tick

A friend and I once joked that we love all things natural, it’s nature we can do without. Of course this was after a particularly long hike on a hot day with our four children 3 and under, where we had encountered all sorts of “interesting” things.

And when we were wondering what all the little yellow things were in our hair, we were still holding it together. It was when we realized they were worms that had fallen from the trees that we high-tailed it out of there.

As the dowager countess of Downton Abby so eloquently put it, “That’s the thing about nature. There is so much of it.”


It is often so breathtakingly beautiful.

In some places, ticks come with the territory.

I made it through my first tick incident, and  can now check “removing a tick from my toddler” off of the list.

And I’m quite certain I will not use the phrase “full as a tick” ever again.

After I discovered the tick in my sweet baby’s hair it looked like a scene straight out of The Internship, as we stood in the bathroom and my sister-in-law googled what to do and my mother-in-law and I tried everything she said as quickly as she read it to us.

My sister was there too, and said she wanted to come in but had no idea what to do and didn’t want to add to the chaos.

Then my brother-in- law (who has four kids) casually walked in, grabbed a pair of tweezers, and took care of business. Aaah. Crisis averted. Until I stayed up all night researching ticks, tick bites, diseases they carry, etc. Never a good idea.

Here’s what I learned post traumatic tick incident:

Don’t follow all the old wives’ tales such as smothering them with petroleum jelly or nail polish, and don’t try to burn them with a match. (Again, a movie came to mind. City Of Angels with Seth asking for olive oil, rubbing alcohol or a match, and Maggie running around saying “We can’t just be burning tick heads!”)

Try this first: Saturate a cotton ball in liquid soap, place it on the tick for 30 seconds, and when you take it off hopefully the tick is on the cotton ball.

If that doesn’t work: Use tweezers and grasp as close to the tick head as possible, making sure not to twist or pinch too hard. Quickly pull the tick out.

3. Thoroughly clean the area with rubbing alcohol

4. Put the tick in a plastic bag and freeze it for 2-3 weeks. (Gross) If a fever or a rash develops within the next 2 weeks, head to the doctor’s office and take the tick with you. (again, gross.)

Every time I opened the freezer I was faced with that little pest. And if you know me personally this will come as no surprise, I got a magnifying glass and tried to identify the species of the tick and decipher approximately how long it had taken up residence (based on how full it was). I did this more than once.

I kept a very watchful eye on my boy, and thankfully we are well past the two week mark. But now we all know how to remove a tick!

4 thoughts on “How To Remove a Tick”

  1. you should’ve texted adrienne – she’s a master in tick removal!!

    and, barf. i dry heaved whilst reading.

  2. Really? I didn’t realize there were so many ticks in Iowa. Well maybe she’ll have some tips to add! If I hadn’t had 2 conversations about Lyme disease the day before, and also known someone with debilitating Lyme disease, I don’t think I would have been as internally freaked out. Whew.

  3. I’m really embarrassed to admit when I saw a few ticks on my (then) toddlers’ ears I kinda froze. I always thought a mother’s instinct would kick in and you’d just do what you had to but I remember not being able to move initially – then my parents helped and we did the tweezers. The soap idea is good. The fear I guess is leaving some part of it in the body. From what I understand the big kind of tick (the ones you see most often, dogs get them too) don’t carry really bad bacteria. I think the ones that do are supposedly quite tiny, as small or smaller than a sesame seed (but maybe that is the kind you found…I’m not sure). Good you were extra careful keeping hold of it. Fascinating story in The New Yorker recently about how Lyme Disease is still controversial (many people say they have chronic, debilitating lyme and while they’ve found support in the medical community others in that same community say these people never had Lyme)

  4. Didn’t mean to send that off yet –

    When we grew up we were always out in the woods- now people around the same area where I grew up (rural suburbs outside Boston) are terrified to go in the woods solely because of ticks. It was interesting to me to hear the first cases of Lyme were reported in 1977 a year after I was born.

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