Step 1: It’s okay to be freaked out when you find a tick biting you!
It is natural to feel panic when you find a tick on your body. Take a few seconds to take some deep breaths. We recommend 8 deep breaths in through your nose, out through your mouth. This will change your brain out of panic mode and into its calmer thinking mode. Your success during the next two steps depends on this.
Step 2: Remove the tick
Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible. Do not wait for it to detach on its own. Also, do not attempt to do anything like “paint” the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or use heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Watch This Video for Help
- Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible
- Pull upward with steady, even pressure
- Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause its mouthparts to break off and get stuck in the skin
- If this happens, do your best to remove the mouthparts with tweezers and schedule an appointment with a dermatologist
Step 3: Save the tick
Save the tick by putting it in a closed container such as a jar or Ziploc bag. The type of tick, amount of time it was on you, bacteria, and viruses carried by the tick are all significant and testable.
Step 4: Clean the area where the tick bit you
After removing the tick, clean your hands with soap and water. Clean the area with a Betadine wipe immediately followed by an alcohol wipe. Do not use Betadine if you are allergic to iodine, have a thyroid condition, or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Step 5: Mark the area where the tick bit you
Use a pen to draw a circle around the area of your tick bite.
Step 6: Take a picture of the area where the tick bit you
Take a clear, close-up picture of the area where the tick bit you so that you can compare it to pictures you will take in the future.
Step 7: Write down where the tick bit you and the date that you found the tick on you
Write down the exact place and date that you found the tick biting you.
Step 8: Call a primary care doctor
Schedule an immediate appointment with a doctor.
Step 9: Take a picture of the tick & send it to TickEncounter for a free report
Take a clear, close-up picture of your tick. Upload your tick picture to TickSpotters at the TickEncounter Resource Center for a free tick report.
Step 10: Mail the tick out for testing
Send your tick to a trustworthy tick testing service. We recommend Ticknetics' "Option 3" which gives you a report on your tick within 24 hours. There are also free options for tick testing:
- New York State Residents
- Pennsylvania State Residents
- Bay Area Lyme Foundation (No State Requirement)
Step 11: Get tested for potential tick diseases
There are multiple types of tests for tick diseases, such as:
There are several tick disease testing methods:
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
- Fluid tests (spinal fluid, joint fluid, etc.)
- Tissue tests
Be sure to ask your doctor for a full tick-borne disease panel, not just a Lyme Disease test. Remember, Lyme Disease and other tick disease tests are not perfect. In fact, the traditional tests run by most doctors are only about 50% accurate. If you are exhibiting symptoms after a tick bite and your tests come back negative, consider using a private lab with more accurate testing techniques such as:
- Immune response or antibody tests; for example the ELISA / EIA and Western Blot tests
- Tick microbe DNA test; for example, PCR test
Step 12: Write down how you feel each day
At the end of each day, write down any physical or emotional symptoms you are experiencing so you can compare how you have been feeling since your tick bite (The Tick Boot Camp Journal may be a helpful tool).
Step 13: Take a picture of the place where the tick bit you every day
Take a picture of where the tick bit you each day. Compare it to pictures of the tick bite location that you took from earlier days. Do this for at least 30 days.
Step 14: Describe and take pictures of your skin condition
Do a full-body skin review each day. Write down and take pictures of any changes in color on your skin or rashes that you have anywhere on your body. The rash doesn’t have to be exactly where the tick bit you. It also doesn’t have to be a bullseye rash. Look at our Instagram story highlight titled “Lyme Rash” to see examples of different types of rashes.
Step 15: Prepare for your doctor’s visit
Give all of the information that you gathered above to your doctor. Discuss preventative treatment options such as antibiotic and herbal treatments. (Note: the Lyme bacteria lifespan is 30 days). Also discuss testing for potential tick diseases.
Additionally, in his article, “How to Build a Positive Relationship with your Doctors,” Dr. Bill Rawls, MD, suggests using the following guidelines to have a more positive and productive relationship with your doctor.
Step 16: Review reports & put them in your journal
Collect medical records from your primary care doctor; including all tests.
Use reports that you got from TickSpotters and the tick testing company that you used to make sure you are fully aware of possible symptoms. Have you developed any symptoms? If so, LymeDisease.org has a checklist that helps you document your exposure to Lyme Disease and common symptoms for your doctor. Visit their Lyme Disease Symptom Checklist page and select the Lyme disease symptoms and conditions that apply to you or your child. You will get an email with a PDF attached that you can print out and take with you to your doctor’s appointment. Share your checklist responses with your doctor to determine if you or your child have Lyme disease.
Step 17: If you get sick (now or in the future), keep Lyme in Mind
If any symptoms develop, you should report all of them to your doctor. If your doctor is not a Lyme literate specialist, then consider locating a Lyme specialist (Lyme Literate Medical Doctor - "LLMD") for a consultation. You can use the links below to find an LLMD.
- International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) (you must register for a free account)
- Use one of the links below to secure a recommendation from a local Lyme Disease support group:
- Rawls MD
- Global Lyme Alliance
Always be mindful of how you are feeling. Tick diseases are opportunistic, so if you have a stressful experience, or if you lead a busy lifestyle and don't take time to rest, your immune system may not be able to manage the bacteria anymore. If you get sick, review steps 12, 13, 14 and 16.
NOTE: The Tick Bite Blueprint is a crowd-sourced document created with input from guests that have appeared on the Tick Boot Camp podcast. We thank each guest for their contribution, and we request your input. If you have any recommendations that can improve this Tick Bite Blueprint, please contact us online.