First aid

Updated 07 September 2015

The doctor's way to remove a tick

Ripping a tick off our skin is not a good idea. Dr Owen Wiese explains the correct way to remove ticks.


With spring approaching we'll be spending more time outdoors, and many of us enjoy a hike or a stroll in the veld. Unfortunately the small, blood-sucking creatures called ticks also eagerly await our arrival. The problem is that we don't always notice the little vampires attached to our skin. 

Our reflex reaction is to grab the tick by its body and rip it off our skin. This might not be a good idea as the tick may break, and parts of its body may remain attached to our skin.

Here's the correct way to remove a tick:

1. Find a tweezer (or pair of pliers).

2. Use the tweezer to grab the tick firmly as close to the place of attachment as you can.

3. With steady force (don't rip it off) pull the tick away from your skin.

4. Clean the area properly.

If you notice any of the following, seek medical advice:

1. A sudden onset fever or any fever following a tick bite

2. Red skin around the site of the bite that grows in size

3. A rash developing at any time after a tick bite

4. Headaches, vomiting, bleeding or bruising following a tick bite

Tick bites are not always harmful, but if you start experiencing strange or odd symptoms, have it checked out.

Read more:

Tick bite fever

Dodging those ticks

Tick spit could cure cancer

Dr. Owen J. Wiese is Health24's resident doctor. After graduating from Stellenbosch University with additional qualifications in biochemistry and physiology he developed a keen interest in providing medical information through the media.


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