Jun 15, 2005 Table of Contents

Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit familydoctor.org, the AAFP patient education Web site.

Information from Your Family Doctor

Ticks—How to Protect Yourself

Am Fam Physician. 2005 Jun 15;71(12):2331-2332.

See related article on tick-borne disease.

Avoiding ticks and places where ticks may be is the best way to keep from getting sick from a tick bite. After being outside in places with ticks, carefully check yourself and family members for ticks (Figure 1). Children should be checked with extra care. Properly and quickly removing ticks will help lower your chances of getting sick.

Figure 1.

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Figure 1.


Figure 1.

Steps to Keep Ticks Off of You

When you are outside, you cannot stay away from all ticks. But there are some things you can do to help (Figure 2):

  • Put bug spray with permethrin on your boots and clothes. Sprays with DEET added can be used on the skin. Be careful when putting it on children. Too much DEET can cause a skin rash.

  • Wear light-colored clothes so it is easier to see any ticks.

  • Tuck your pant legs into your socks to keep ticks from getting under your clothes.

  • Consider wearing high rubber boots.

Figure 2.

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Figure 2.


Figure 2.

Removing Attached Ticks

Use fine-tipped (needle-nose) tweezers or protect your fingers with a tissue, paper towel, or rubber gloves. Do not use your bare hands.

Grab the tick as close to your skin as possible. Pull up with steady, even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick; this may cause the mouthparts to break off and stay in your skin. (If this happens, remove the mouthparts with tweezers.) Talk to your doctor if you see any signs of infection. These include redness at bite site, chills, fever, headache, muscle or joint pain, feeling tired, cough, sore throat, and chest pain.


This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at http://familydoctor.org.

This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.

Copyright © 2005 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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