What Should You Do If a Tick’s Head Breaks Off As You Remove the Tick?

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If a tick’s head breaks off during removal, it should be treated as a splinter and removed with a pair of tweezers, advises the American Academy of Family Physicians. Dr. Sears recommends pinching the area of skin where the tick head is embedded between the thumb and forefinger and scraping the skin with a sterilized razor blade or the edge of a scalpel.

A sterilized needle can be used to break the skin to remove the tick’s head or its mouth-parts, adds Dr. Sears. BabyCenter advises that a tick’s head that cannot be easily removed can be left in the skin to be expelled naturally by the body.

Ticks should be removed by pinching them with a pair of blunt tweezers as close to the skin as possible, pulling straight up while avoiding twisting and jerking motions that may break off the head or mouth parts, states the Children’s Health Network. Dr. Sears advises against pulling the tick off with fingers, which may cause the head to break off, but the Children’s Health Network suggests using fingers, a loop of thread around the tick’s jaws or a needle between its jaws if tweezers are not readily available.

Care should be taken not to squeeze or crush a tick’s body while trying to remove it, as this can release infectious fluids into the skin, states the Children’s Health Network.