Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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RMSF Tick Removal

Ticks usually require about 36 hours of attachment to the skin, in order to transmit bacteria from their bodies, causing Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

A tick can be removed safely by performing the following:

  • Grasp the neck or head of the tick with tweezers. Do not squeeze the body.
  • Pull slowly, and straight out. Do not twist the head.
  • Remove remaining mouth parts by cleaning with alcohol and scraping with a knife or blade or a sterile needle.
  • Clean the wound with soap and water.
  • Apply an antibiotic ointment.
  • See a doctor within 24 hours if you cannot remove a tick.

Continue to RMSF Complications

Last Updated: Jul 8, 2009 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed RMSF References
  1. Bratton RL, Corey R. Tick-borne disease. Am Fam Physician. 2005 Jun 15;71(12):2323-30. [15999870]
  2. Cale DF, McCarthy MW. Treatment of Rocky Mountain spotted fever in children. Ann Pharmacother. 1997 Apr;31(4):492-4. [9101014]
  3. Chapman AS, Bakken JS, Folk SM, et al. Tickborne Rickettsial Diseases Working Group; CDC. Diagnosis and management of tickborne rickettsial diseases: Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichioses, and anaplasmosis--United States: a practical guide for physicians and other health-care and public health professionals. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2006 Mar 31;55(RR-4):1-27. [16572105]
  4. Purvis JJ, Edwards MS. Doxycycline use for rickettsial disease in pediatric patients. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2000 Sep;19(9):871-4. [11001111]
  5. Sexton DJ, Kaye KS. Rocky Mountain spotted fever: a clinician's dilemma. Arch Intern Med. 2003 Apr 14;163(7):769-74. [12695267]
  6. Treadwell TA, Holman RC, Clarke MJ, Krebs JW, Paddock CD, Childs JE. Rocky Mountain spotted fever in the United States, 1993-1996. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2000 Jul-Aug;63(1-2):21-6. [11357990]
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