First Aid Tips for Tick Bites

You’ve been bitten by a tick. Now what?

Don’t panic. Here’s what to do.

Remove the tick.

  • Put on rubber or latex gloves to protect yourself and then remove the tick with a tick removal tool or fine-tipped tweezers.
  • Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull it straight up and out. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  • Do not squeeze or crush the body of the tick; this may force infected body fluids from the tick into the skin.
  • If the tick has burrowed into the skin and can’t be removed, see your healthcare provider ASAP.

WHN Expert Tip – Visual Aid: Watch the University of Rhode Island TickEncounter Resource Center (TERC) YouTube video How To Remove A Tick.

Clean the area.

After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area, your hands and the tweezers or tool with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.

Never crush a tick with your fingers, says the CDC. Dispose of a live tick by putting it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet.

WHN TIP – Save It: You may want to retain the tick in case you develop any symptoms in the next few days or weeks to make it easier for your healthcare provider to identify the type that bit you.

Watch for symptoms.

While it’s normal for a small red bump may appear at the site of the tick bite, the Mayo Clinic says that if the rash gets bigger or you develop other symptoms (rash, fever, chills, aches and pains), see your doctor.

Had symptoms but now they are gone? See your doctor anyway, because you may still be at risk for the disease.

WHN TIP – Which Tick Is It? Not sure what ticks look like or what type bit you? Check out the University of Rhode Island TickEncounter Resource Center’s (TERC) Tick Identification Chart.


For More Information

CDC: Ticks – Information on ticks including how to prevent them, remove them and identify them.

Lyme Disease Association, Inc. – About Lyme: Specific information about Lyme disease, usually transmitted by the bite of an infected tick (Ixodes scapularis in the East, Ixodes pacificus in the West.)

Medline Plus – Tick Bites: Comprehensive section covering the basics about ticks and tick-related illness as well as research and resources.

University of Rhode Island TickEncounter Resource Center (TERC): TERC resources to help you learn and promote the most up-to-date, effective, tick-bite prevention techniques. TERC promotes tick-bite protection and tick-borne disease prevention by engaging, educating, and empowering people to take action.