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What helps draw a tick out?

Ticks are pesky little creatures that can cause a lot of trouble if they latch onto your skin. Not only can they be uncomfortable, but ticks can also transmit diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. That’s why it’s crucial to remove ticks as soon as possible. While there are various methods for tick removal, some people swear by folk remedies that they believe can help draw the tick out on its own. In this article, we will explore some common folk remedies for tick removal and discuss their effectiveness.

Heat-based Methods

Using a Hot Match

One folk remedy involves using a hot match to draw out a tick. The idea behind this method is that the heat from the match will cause the tick to back out of the skin. However, it’s important to exercise caution when using this method. While the heat may cause the tick to detach, it can also cause the tick to regurgitate its stomach contents into the bloodstream, increasing the risk of disease transmission.

If you decide to use a hot match, follow these precautions:

1. Light the match and let it burn for a few seconds to ensure a hot flame.
2. Blow out the flame and quickly touch the hot match to the tick’s body, close to the point of attachment.
3. After a few seconds, the tick may detach itself. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick and remove it from the skin.

It’s important to note that this method is not recommended by healthcare professionals, as it carries the risk of injury and disease transmission.

Suffocation Methods

Applying Petroleum Jelly

Another popular folk remedy for tick removal involves suffocating the tick with petroleum jelly. The theory behind this method is that the thick jelly will cut off the tick’s air supply, causing it to detach. Here’s how you can use petroleum jelly to remove a tick:

1. Apply a thick layer of petroleum jelly directly over the tick.
2. Leave the jelly on the tick for a few minutes.
3. Once the tick is suffocated, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp it as close to the skin as possible and gently pull it straight out.

While this method may seem simple, it’s essential to note that ticks can survive for extended periods without oxygen. Therefore, suffocating them with petroleum jelly may not always be effective.

Using Nail Polish

Similar to petroleum jelly, some people believe that nail polish can suffocate ticks and encourage them to detach from the skin. However, there is limited scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of this method. If you choose to use nail polish, follow these steps:

1. Apply a generous amount of nail polish over the tick.
2. Allow the nail polish to dry completely.
3. Once the tick appears to be trapped by the dried nail polish, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp it and pull it out gently.

As with other suffocation methods, the use of nail polish may not always be reliable in drawing out the tick. It’s important to monitor the tick’s behavior during this process and seek professional medical help if needed.

Freezing Methods

Freezing the Tick Off

Some people believe that freezing can make a tick detach from the skin. To use this method, follow these steps:

1. Grab a portable freezing spray or an aerosol refrigerant.
2. Hold the canister a few inches away from the tick and spray a short burst directly onto the tick.
3. The extreme cold temperature should cause the tick to contract and detach from the skin.
4. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick and remove it carefully.

It’s important to note that freezing methods can sometimes irritate the tick, causing it to release more potentially disease-carrying fluids. If you choose to use this method, exercise caution and monitor the tick’s behavior.

Using Ice to Detach the Tick

Another freezing method involves numbing the tick’s feeding area with ice, making it easier to remove. Follow these steps:

1. Take an ice cube or a cold pack and place it on the tick’s location.
2. Hold the ice against the tick for a few minutes to effectively numb the area.
3. Once the area is adequately numb, use fine-tipped tweezers to grab the tick as close to the skin as possible.
4. Gently pull straight up to remove the tick completely.

Using ice can help reduce the discomfort associated with tick removal, but it may not guarantee that the tick will detach instantly. Always be patient and persistent when dealing with ticks.

Other Recommended Methods

Using Fine-tipped Tweezers

One of the most recommended methods for tick removal is using fine-tipped tweezers. This method is straightforward and effective when done correctly. Here’s how:

1. Grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible, using fine-tipped tweezers.
2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Avoid twisting or jerking the tick, as this may cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin.
3. After removing the tick, clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.

Tweezers offer precise control, allowing you to grasp the tick firmly and ensure complete removal. It’s advisable to keep a pair of fine-tipped tweezers in your first aid kit for tick removal.

Seeking Professional Help

If you are uncomfortable with removing a tick on your own or if the tick has been attached for an extended period, it is always best to seek professional medical assistance. Healthcare professionals have the necessary tools and experience to safely and effectively remove the tick without causing harm or increasing the risk of disease transmission.

Precautions and Aftercare

Once the tick has been removed, it’s crucial to follow these precautions and provide proper aftercare:

1. Properly dispose of the tick by placing it in a sealed bag or container. You may want to keep the tick for identification purposes if necessary.
2. Clean the bite area thoroughly with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
3. Monitor the bite area for any signs of infection, such as increased redness, swelling, or pus.
4. If you experience any symptoms of tick-borne illnesses, such as fever, rash, or joint pain, seek medical attention promptly.


While folk remedies for tick removal may have their proponents, it’s important to approach them with caution. Heat-based methods like using a hot match, suffocation methods like petroleum jelly or nail polish, and freezing methods can potentially aggravate the tick or increase the risk of disease transmission. It is generally recommended to use fine-tipped tweezers and seek professional medical help if needed. Regardless of the method chosen, promptly removing ticks is crucial in reducing the risk of tick-borne diseases. Remember to take preventive measures to avoid tick bites, such as wearing protective clothing and using insect repellents containing DEET. Stay vigilant and protect yourself from these tiny but troublesome creatures.


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  5. Tick Removal: A Step-by-Step Guide (for Parents)