Methods of Tick Removal: A Systematic Review of the Literature

Nikki Coleman, Stephen Coleman


An increase in tick borne diseases in Australia has seen an interest in appropriate removal of ticks (order Ixodida) in order to prevent anaphylaxis, allergy and transmission of tick borne diseases.

A systematic review of peer-reviewed literature to determine what method of tick removal should be promoted in terms of preventing future health complications.

Thematic synthesis was used in two stages: – tick removal studies conducted on animals and humans were examined and the conclusions from all of these studies were compared, in order to ascertain the best tick removal method in relation to prevention of future medical problems (including tick bite allergy and transmission of infection).

This systematic review documents the best method of tick removal based on scientific and medical studies between 1985 and 2016. It concludes that the best method is to remove the tick as soon as possible after it is detected, using either fine-tipped tweezers or a reputable commercially produced tick removal tool to pull the tick away from the site of attachment. Some methods of removal, such as applying chemicals like petroleum jelly, alcohol, or nail polish to the tick, have been discredited. Other methods of removal, such as freezing, while promising, have not yet been scientifically validated.
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