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  • Writer's pictureDr. Brian Lum

The Right Way To Remove A Tick

Updated: Feb 2, 2022

Once you find a tick on yourself or a loved one there is a mad scramble to find a pair of tweezers and to grab your phone to google 'how to remove a tick'.

Shockingly, most of these methods actually increase your change of tick borne illness.

Here are a few key points to keep in mind the next time you find an unwelcome guest having a free meal - as well as some lesser known facts about bullseye rashes, and all the nasty things you can get from a tick bite.

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How To Remove A Tick

  • Disturb the tick as little as possible prior to removal - no burning, squeezing or twisting. The disease-causing bacteria, viruses and parasites reside in the ticks belly. Once the tick begins to feed, the tick 'spits up' from its lower body and infects the host. Traumatizing the tick with fire, oils, Vaseline or alcohol can cause the tick to spit up infectious agents into the host.

  • As quickly as you can, remove the tick (from its head, as close to the skin as possible, don't squeeze the body) with a pair of preferably pointed, sterilized tweezers at a 45 degree angle from the skin [1].

  • Clean the area with alcohol, wash your hands thoroughly and allow the area to heal.

  • Save the tick in a ziplock bag in the freezer with the date found and the location you picked up the tick. If you get sick you may be able to have the tick tested to determine the best treatment approach to your infection.

The 'Bullseye' Rash

Not all those infected with Lyme disease get the characteristic bullseye rash (called erythema migrans or EM) and other tick borne diseases may cause different rashes or no rash at all.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, tularemia, and Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness (STARI) are all serious tick borne illnesses that can produce a variety of rashes and skin ulcers, but also may not produce a skin rash at all. [2]

If you do get the characteristic bullseye rash, particularly if the rash is greater than two inches in diameter you should see your doctor immediately to begin treatment.

You can develop symptoms of tick-borne illness weeks before or after the rash.

Whenever you have abnormal symptoms - do not rely on the shape or other characteristics of a rash to rule out Lyme or other tick-borne illness.

Along with rashes, flu like symptoms of fever, chills, joint pain, and fatigue often develop in the days or weeks following an infected tick bite. [3]

If you develop unusual symptoms of any kind or develop any kind of skin irritation following a tick bite - always rule out tick borne illness with your doctor.

Tick Borne Illness And Misdiagnosis

Anyone who works with chronic illness quickly that complexity is the rule, not the exception.

There are often coinfections and toxicity components in the background of diseases like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease.

Diseases like Lyme can mimic Crohn's disease and Crohn's disease can have multiple infections as a starting point for the progression of the disease.

Whether you have Lyme and are having trouble managing your symptoms or have chronic illness that is not improving by conventional treatment - accurate and comprehensive testing is the foundation on which accurate diagnosis is based.

Read about Functional Medicine Testing

From there, a more nuanced approach to your condition can be determined.

Lyme disease testing is notoriously misleading, patients often have false negatives, confusing tests results and reactions to medications that don't seem to make sense.

In this way, functional medicine testing can provide clarity where conventional diagnostic testing falls short. By looking at the overall function of the body we can support it in its efforts to throw off the infection.

An integrative approach is usually best for most patients, treatment will depend on the infection and any other conditions the patient has.

It is not uncommon for a viral issue to be mistaken for a bacterial issue and a parasitic infection treated as a viral infection - if your not getting the results you need, then a functional medicine doctor may be able to work with your primary care physician to rule out coinfections or other health problems that could be complicating your tick-borne illness treatment.

If you would like to speak to me to ask questions about functional medicine, tick borne illness or how I can help you, please schedule a Free 15 Minute Consultation or call or text my office at 913-728-5291.

My clinic offers functional medicine appointments as well as manual soft tissue treatments for chronic pain and illness. I do online consultations for those out-of-state or outside of the United States.


If you think that you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.  No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information. Nor should you ever delay seeking medical advice or treatment due to the information contained on this Website.

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