How to Correctly Remove Ticks

Avoiding being bitten by ticks in the first instance is always recommended and being aware that ticks can cause serious harm to humans and pets is wise.  Ticks were predominantly found in the bush in days gone by, however this is no longer the case.  Ticks are prevalent in all states and territories of Australia.  Stories of individuals being bitten in the suburbs are now all too common as these minute parasites have progressively made their way from the country and into our urban areas.

Whilst the Australian Government maintains its stance on Lyme disease not being a notifiable disease in Australia we at the Lyme Disease Association of Australia (LDAA) are contacted on a regular basis by individuals who have been bitten and now have a chronic condition.  Don’t let this happen to you.

In an article “Methods of tick removal: A systematic review of the literature” published in the Australian Medical Journal, Stephen and Nikki Coleman studied peer-reviewed literature to determine which was the best method of removing ticks to prevent future health complications, from a scientific perspective.

The Colemans performed a systematic review of the published literature based on scientific and medical studies conducted between 1985 and 2016 on tick removal. Their conclusion was to endorse what is the current accepted medical practice – also endorsed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) – to remove the tick by mechanical means as soon as possible after the tick is detected. Gripping the tick around the mouthparts using either fine-tipped tweezers or a 'claw-like' tick removal tool to pull the tick away from the site of attachment is best. The area around the tick bite should then be thoroughly disinfected.

Some Doctors recommend freezing the tick in place as a method of tick removal, but the Colemans found that there is, at this point in time at least, insufficient scientific evidence to support such a method of removal; the same conclusion was also reached by the WHO and the CDC.

Rev'd Dr Nikki Coleman is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Yale University Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics, and a Research Associate at the College of Medicine, Biology and the Environment, Australian National University, and was previously a member of the Chief Medical Officer's Clinical Advisory Committee (CALCD) on Lyme Disease.  Dr Stephen Coleman, is the Associate Professor of Ethics and Leadership in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of New South Wales in Canberra.

For tools specifically designed to remove ticks, refer to our recommended tools here.