I Found a Tick on Me… Now What?

I Found a Tick on Me… Now What?

tick on a leaf

Finding a tick on your body can be nerve-racking, but it’s essential to take all of the necessary steps to ensure that the tick is removed promptly and correctly to decrease the chance of contracting a tick-borne disease.

Read on for a detailed guide on what to do when you find a tick on yourself, including:

1. How to properly remove the tick;

2. Cleaning the infected area;

3. Sending the tick to be tested for tick-borne diseases;

4. Being aware of symptoms.

    The Best Way to Remove a Tick

    Removing a tick can be tricky, but the first step is to remain calm and move quickly. The longer the tick is embedded in the skin, the chances of contracting Lyme disease or other illnesses increases. Use a pair of tweezers to grab onto the tick and pull in an upwards motion.

    DO NOT:

    • Twist when pulling the tick out so the insect breaks off into the skin.
    • Use a match, petroleum jelly, or fingernail polish to remove the tick.
    • Handle the tick with bare hands.

    Once the tick has been removed, thoroughly clean the bite area and hands with soap and warm water. Applying alcohol to the bite area helps prevent any infection from occurring.

    Place the tick in a sealed plastic bag to send to a lab for a Lyme disease test or testing for other tick-borne diseases.

    Lyme Disease Symptoms to Look For

    A bump or irritation is expected after any insect bite, but when the rash gets bigger or appears as a bullseye (known as erythema migraines), it’s time to call a doctor.


    tick bite bulls eye indicates lyme disease black skin  tick bite bulls eye indicates lyme disease white skin

    Other early Lyme disease symptoms include a fever and flu-like symptoms, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, joint pains, and muscle aches. Later stage Lyme disease symptoms consist of rapid heartbeat, headaches, poor memory, arthritis, and swollen joints. Call a doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.

    If the tick is collected and saved after the bite, send the tick to a testing lab, for any tick-borne diseases even before experiencing any symptoms of illness.

    Where to Send Ticks for Testing


    Tick Testing Lab Location Tick Testing Offered
     Animal Health Diagnostic Center
    Ithaca, NY
    • Tick species identification
    • Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis
    Fairfield Health Department
    Fairfield, CT
    • Tick species identification: only engorged deer ticks can be sent to this stat lab
    CT Vet Medical Diagnostics Lab Storrs, CT
    • Tick species identification
    • Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Rock Mountain Spotted fever, Ehrlichiosis, Tularemia
    Identifyus, LLC
    Needham, MA
    • Lyme disease, Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Rickettsia, Ehrlichiosis, Powassan virus, Heartland virus, Colorado Tick fever, Bourbon virus
    Igenex, Inc.
    Palo Alto, CA
    • Lyme disease, Relapsing fever, Ehrlichiosis, Bartonellosis, Rickettsiosis, Babesiosis
    NJ Laboratories
    New Brunswick, NJ
    • Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Rickettsiosis, Tularemia
    East Stroudsburg, PA
    • Southern tick-associated rash illness
    • Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Bartonellosis, Borrelia miyamotoi, Tularemia, Mycoplasma spp., Borrelia spp., Rickettsia, Powassan virus
    Ticknology Fort Collins, CO
    • Borreliosis, Lyme disease, Babesiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, Rickettsiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Tularemia, Bartonella
    Tick Report
    Amherst, MA
    • Lyme disease, Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Rickettsia, Tularemia, Powassan, Heartland virus, Colorado tick fever, Bourbon virus 


      Each of these tick testing centers offer different packages at different price points, so refer to their individual websites for more information.

      While there are several diseases that ticks carry, the transmittable diseases can depend on location and type of tick. A Lyme disease test may suffice in most locations, but if other tick-borne diseases are common in your area, then it’s recommended to test for other diseases. For example, Blacklegged ticks, or deer ticks, appear in the Eastern United States and can transmit Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis, and Powassan virus. While Lyme disease is the most commonly known tick-borne disease, these other illnesses can be carried by deer ticks.

      lone star tick, deer tick, brown dog tick, groundhog tick

      While waiting on the results from the tick labs, you should still visit a doctor especially if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of tick-borne illness, so you can be treated in a timely manner. Do not rely exclusively on tick labs for a final diagnosis.

      See the full tick map and travel guide for information on different ticks and the illnesses they can transmit.

      The Best Way to Prevent Tick Bites

      Wearing DEET-Free tick repellent with Picaridin 20% is the best way to prevent tick bites and the disease they carry such as: Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, and Deer Tick virus (DTV). But, why do ticks bite us? Watch the video below to learn more.