Tick removal forceps

What should I use to remove ticks?

Short answer: tick removal forceps

As a veterinarian, I've removed thousands of ticks using many different methods. Most tick tools and surgical instruments are awkward to use and tend to either squash the tick or poke holes in the patient.

Searching for something better, I came across an instrument ophthalmologists use for removing splinters from the eye. Fine tipped and curved, they are almost perfect for tick removal, but expensive and not sturdy enough to remove firmly embedded ticks. We have modified this design and now have what is probably the only surgical-quality instrument made specifically for tick removal.

The new tick removal forceps are:

  • Fine-tipped but not sharp, so you can grasp the tick's head without squashing its body and getting tick juice all over the place
  • Curved, so you can see what you are doing and avoid stabbing your not-always-cooperative patient
  • Sturdy enough to put serious traction on deeply embedded ticks

For tick removal from dogs, cats, or humans, nothing else works as well.

Alternative methods of tick removal

don't remove ticks with fingers

Fingers:

Fingers work well, but it's a bad idea because you wind up with tick juice under your fingernails.

tick removal with gloves

Fingers protected by rubber gloves:

Not as bad. You are protected, but with rubber gloves on, you can't use your fingernails. The process is clumsy and you leave parts of the tick behind.

tick removal with blunt tweezers

Blunt tweezers:

Not terrible, but all you can do is grasp the tick's body and pull, squashing the tick and leaving the head behind.

tick removal with sharp tweezers

Sharp tweezers:

These work pretty well, but with straight sharp tweezers itís difficult to avoid poking holes in your patient.

tick removal with straight hemostat

Straight hemostats:

Not bad but awkward to use. Curved tip forceps are better because they allow room to hold the instrument without your hand getting in the way.

tick removal with curved hemostat

Curved hemostats:

Carefully used, small curved hemostats work pretty well. These are probably what your physician or veterinarian uses. Unfortunately hemostats tend to crush the tick, which is something that should be avoided if possible.

tick removal with tick spoon

Ticked off™ tick spoon:

A little plastic spoon with an impressively well-crafted notch at the end. The idea is to slide the notch under the tick and then lever it off. If you have a cooperative patient and a hairless area to work in, these are good little tools.

tick removal with tick slider

Pro Tick Remedy™ tick slider:

Similar to the tick spoon, you slide the implement under the tick and lift it off. Slightly more difficult to use on dogs than the tick spoon, the tick slider is not a bad choice for humans.

tick removal with tick pliers

Tick Nipper™ tick pliers

These are little gizmos with curved plastic jaws that fit under the tick, enabling you to grasp the tickís head and lift it off. The jaws are beautifully designed, but the handles arenít, making the instrument clumsy to use, even on a cooperative human patient.

tick removal with tick loop

Trix™ tick noose:

One of the more inventive tools, the tick noose consists of a spring-loaded handle something like a ball point pen. Pressing the end of the handle extends a monofilament nylon noose. Slip the noose around the tick's little neck, release the spring, and lift off the tick. Sounds good, but in practice this is't quite so easy. It's difficult to fit the noose over the bodies of large ticks, and on small ticks, releasing the spring often pulls the noose away from the tick rather than tightening around its neck.