If you find a tick on yourself, it’s totally normal to want to climb out of your skin and burn it and live your life with your bones and muscles on display. Since that didn’t work the last time I tried it, I’m glad to report there is a safe, effective, hands-off way to remove the tick from your skin. More than one, in fact.
Put down the matches, though. And the soap, and the alcohol. Those can make a tick release itself, but they also make the tick vomit its stomach contents into your bloodstream. That’s gross and it increases your risk of catching tick-borne diseases like Lyme. Instead, you need specialised equipment. Get your hands on it now, before you need it. You have several options, and they’re all under $10 each.
I prefer the Tick Key. I have actually used this one in real life, while freaking out just a little (I respect arachnids and insects as important parts of the ecosystem but I really do not enjoy touching them) and it’s pretty easy.
You put the large end of the keyhole over the tick, then just slide it over so the tick gets wedged into the small end. That’s it. The tick is removed.
If you do it right, pressing down into the skin, you can remove the whole creature. If you’re a bit skittish, like me, you might end up leaving the mouthparts buried in the skin. But at that point they’re not attached to a living breathing monster, so it’s really no biggie. The mouthparts are very very tiny, and they will work their way out as the bite heals. Once the tick is off your skin, your job is done.
My vet prefers the Tick Twister, which is easier to use without fur getting in the way. You slide the forked part around the tick, then twist until it pops off.
There are other brands, like the Ticked Off, that work in similar ways. You can also, if you’re not too squeamish, grab the lil guy close to the skin with fine-tipped tweezers.
(Either special tick tweezers or just a regular pair that’s small enough).
When you’ve got the tick, you can drop it into a jar of alcohol to make sure it’s good and dead. I usually put it in a baggie, so it can’t crawl away, and drop it in the trash; sandwiching it in masking tape is another reasonable approach.
Finally, try to stop this from happening ever again by checking yourself for ticks every day. A shower is pretty good at washing the little guys off before they get a chance to attach. If you’ve just finished a hike and worry that you’re crawling with the things, give yourself a few swipes with a lint roller to tide you over until shower time.