Bobbi Pritt, M.D., Discusses Safe Tick Removal

Bobbi Pritt, M.D., Director of the Clinical Parasitology Laboratory in Mayo Clinic’s Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, recently discussed how to safety remove ticks from skin with

Bobbi Pritt, M.D.

According to Dr. Pritt, the only tool needed to safely remove a tick is a clean pair of fine-tip tweezers. “You want to grasp the tick as close as you can to the skin, and then, pull it out in a single, continuous motion.”

The goal is to use the tweezers to completely remove the tick from the skin. By pulling out the tick in one swift motion, taking measures not to crush or rip it, you will ensure that the whole tick is out of your body.

The greatest peak of tick-borne illness is in the spring and early summer. During these seasons, immature ticks are in their largest numbers, and according to Dr. Pritt, immature ticks are dangerous because they are very hard to spot due to their incredibly small size.

Dr. Pritt also warns against the folklore remedies to remove ticks, such as matches, nail polish, or tape—as they increase the chance of crushing the tick, which increases the chance that the tick's potentially harmful contents will be released into your body. These harmful contents can cause inflammation and increase the risk of infection. By damaging the tick, you are potentially putting yourself at risk.

It is important to remove the tick as quickly as possible after noticing it on your skin, as the longer the tick is on the skin, the higher the likelihood that a disease or infection will be transmitted.

"It is not necessary to consult a doctor every time you find a tick on your skin," said Dr. Pritt. However, you should visit a medical professional if you have been outside and begin to experience any symptoms such as a rash, fever, chills, or body aches. In a case that the traditional "bull's-eye" lesion of Lyme disease appears, medical attention is especially recommended.

Kelley Luedke

Kelley Luedke is a Marketing Channel Manager at Mayo Clinic Laboratories. She is the principle editor and writer of Insights and leads social media and direct marketing strategy. Kelley has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2013. Outside of work, you can find Kelley running, traveling, playing with her kitty, and exploring new foods.