Knowing how to remove ticks is an important skill if you are going camping or hiking.
A tick bite is not harmful in itself - but ticks can carry a number of diseases that are harmful to humans and to our pets. Knowing how to find and remove ticks will help you to protect your family.
The best solution, of course, is to avoid being bitten by ticks at all. Read about tick bite prevention here.
But what if a tick does find you and bite you? Don't panic! Most tick-borne disease are not immediately transmitted. If you can get the tick off quickly, you minimize the chance of getting sick.
The best way to remove ticks is with a tick removal tool.
These are specially designed to grip a tick firmly while not ripping it apart.
You can also use tweezers.
One of these should be in your first aid kit at all times. You'll also need soap and water, and you may want to use an antiseptic.
If you have a tick removal tool, push the plunger. The jaws will open wide.
Place the jaws around the tick, as close to your skin as possible. Gently release the plunger so that it closes on the tick.
If you are using tweezers, grasp the tick carefully, and be careful not to squeeze the tick; this could force its stomach contents into your skin.
Pull slowly and steadily.
Don't twist the tick. This may cause the head to separate from the body. You want to remove the whole thing.
Use your fingers - but protect your fingers with a glove, a piece of plastic wrap or a scrap of paper. Wash your hands when you are done.
The tick's mouth parts might break off from its body and stay attached to your skin. If that happens, use a sharp blade or a needle to scrape the bits from your skin.
In that case, you should seek medical attention.
You may want to use an antiseptic or antibiotic ointment to prevent infection.
If it is alive, you might want to have it tested for infection.
Place it in a container with a tight fitting lid. Moisten a cotton ball with water and put that in the container. Take the container home and put it in the fridge. Contact your health authority right away to find out about having the tick tested.
A dead tick can't be tested. However, you may want to save it in order to identify it. Put it in a clean container or plastic bag and take it home with you.
Your dog may be even more likely to be bitten by a tick than you are. You and your children can take tick bite precautions, and stay away from the long underbrush where ticks hang out, but what are your chances of keeping your dog away?
That's why it's important to check your dog for ticks regularly.
If you live in a region that is known to be home to ticks, get into a routine of checking your dog daily.
If you take your dog hiking in an area where ticks are likely to hang out, check your dog several times during the day. Here's how:
These will protect you from the tick's bodily fluids, which may carry pathogens.
Sit in the bright sunlight, or use a flashlight. Part your dog's hair and search diligently for any critters. A tick that has not begun to feed may be as small as the point of a pencil. A tick that is engorged with blood may be as big as a watermelon seed - or even bigger!
Pay special attention to the area behind the ears, to skin folds, and to all crannies and crevices. If you feel a tick, resist the urge to grab it and pull it off. The best way to remove ticks on dogs is just the same as removing ticks from humans: grasp with tweezers, and pull gently and firmly without twisting.
Knowing how to remove ticks will give you peace of mind when you venture into the wilderness. Have fun!
Before you start packing for your next camping trip, be sure to visit the Complete Family Camping Guide home page. You'll find helpful information about every part of your adventure!