May 7, 2009 8:12 AM

How to remove a tick

Got an email this morning suggesting liquid soap as a tick removal technique - and was all set to pass it on, but on further investigation, I found this at The People's Pharmacy:

Liquid Soap Won't Scare Off Tick

Liquid Soap Won't Scare Off Tick

Q. My brother-in-law sent me an email about how to remove ticks. It was attributed to a school nurse who suggested applying a glob of liquid soap to a cotton ball and covering the tick with the cotton ball for 20 seconds. Presumably when you remove the cotton ball the tick will come out on its own and be stuck to the cotton ball.

Is this really a good way to remove ticks? We are having a bumper crop this year.

A. According to, this email has been circulating on the Internet for more than two years. It sounds credible, but it is not true. Putting liquid soap, petroleum jelly, Vicks VapoRub, fingernail polish or any other goo on a tick will not make it let go faster. Aggravating a tick might cause it to regurgitate saliva into the bite, increasing the risk of infection.

The CDC recommends grasping the tick with tweezers as close to the skin as possible. Use a gentle steady motion to pull the tick straight away from the skin.

Prompt removal reduces the risk of infection. Symptoms such as rash, fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint aches could signal either Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Both require prompt medical attention.


Posted in Health, Safety | Permalink


Barbara, I remove ticks all the time. We have them like crazy up here in the woods of the Northeast. You'll need good quality stainless steel tweezers - avoid the chrome-plated round tipped kind.

A doctor showed me this one time and it works:

1) Use sharp pointed tweezers and gently slide one side under the tick's body, then draw the tweezers back until just the point of the tweezers aligns with the head of the buried tick.

2) Pinch just the tick's head with the tweezers and rotate the whole tick and head 90 degrees. (The tweezers end up pointing at the skin)

3) now gently pull the head out by moving in the opposite direction, taking care not to squeeze the body in any way.

4) Apply topical anti-biotic (Bacitracin etc.) to the site, and watch it for at least 24 hours to see if it reddens or heals.

Apparently the barbs that usually hold the head in, when rotated, move through the slot opening made by the tick. They come out very easy like this.

Works for both wood ticks and deer ticks.

The thin, sharp pointed, high quality tweezers are well worth the investment for this task.

Posted by: Chris Arsenault | May 7, 2009 8:41 AM

Yuck! Two days ago I had to remove my very first tick, happily lodged in the ear of my four year old. I was going to kiss him when I noticed so big, black dot inside his ear (not in the ear canal, thank goodness). I got so nervous, I called my husband to come home "immediately" to remove it. At the impossibility of that i decided to take matters into my own hands; I did it with the tweezers; it took a couple of pulls but it finally came out, head and all; actually the head had a little piece of my son's flesh in it.

As soon as I put it down in the napkin the think started walking around.

I was worried about it being a "deer" tick. Does anyone knows the difference?

Although I haven't checked his ear ever since; thanks for the reminder; I have to go now and make sure is healing properly.

Posted by: LadyLovas | May 7, 2009 11:46 AM

We've had the best experience with a little product called "ticked off" that I got on clearance once at a pet store. If I'd known how well it worked, I would have bought more than one. I just googled them, and they do have a website - - It's like a little spoon with a notch in it. The kids claim it doesn't hurt that way - of course with middle-aged parents trying to focus on the tick, they usually get their skin pinched with the tweezers the other way.

Posted by: Susan | May 7, 2009 9:20 PM

Instead of using sharp tweezers we can use a tick removal tool. Its results are awesome.

Posted by: jacob | June 3, 2009 8:35 AM

I've had the best results on ticks and slivers with a different kind of tweezers that you grip up by the tip so you can gauge exactly how much pressure you want/need to get the job done. With ticks, you don't want to squish them, so a lighter touch is needed, but with slivers you want to squeeze hard to get the whole sliver out in one pull. Check out PockeTweez

Posted by: Sliversolver | March 31, 2010 4:09 PM

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