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Ticks Are Tricky to Remove: The Easiest Tweezer-Free Way to Do It This Season

Ticks suck. But there's a simple way to get one off of your skin, without using tweezers.

A tick on a leaf
It's officially tick season.
Getty Images

This story is part of Try This, CNET's collection of simple tips to improve your life, fast.

Tick season has arrived. That means, depending on where you live, it's more important than usual to check yourself, your family members and your pets for those pesky bloodsuckers after you've spent time outdoors. 

Ticks add an extra layer of anxiety because they sometimes carry illness, such as Lyme disease -- so not finding them can have serious consequences. And if you accidentally break off part of the tick while trying to remove it, it can still transmit its illness and the bite can also get infected.

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In short, ticks suck. So if you find one on your body, how do you get it off? The CDC recommends using fine-tipped tweezers for removing ticks, but what if you don't have any handy?

I discovered a little-known tip some years ago, and it forever changed how I remove the little biters. Here's how to remove ticks quickly, easily and safely -- if you don't have, or can't find, tweezers. (We've also got tips for how to protect your pets from ticks this season.) 

Try this easy Q-tip tick trick

Row of five Q tips on yellow background

Yes, you can remove a tick with a Q-tip.

Getty/Suchart Doyemah/EyeEm

Folk methods for removing ticks are usually bunk for one of a few reasons. Either they aim to induce the tick to detach with time -- whereas you should remove ticks immediately to minimize chances of disease transmission -- or they risk injuring the person or animal getting bitten by the tick (fire burns skin as well as ticks, after all).

But this method is quick and harmless. All you need is a Q-tip.

When you locate an attached tick, immediately grab a Q-tip, and gently twirl tight circles around the wound, lightly pulling at the tick. The goal here is not to pull the tick free, but to cause it to release and latch onto the Q-tip. It should happen within moments.

I've removed many ticks this way, and it is invariably quick and painless. What's more, you have virtually no risk of leaving mouth pieces in the wound, since the tick detaches itself.

And if something goes wrong, you can always still run out to the store and get some tweezers, as the CDC recommends.

Once you dispose of the tick, you can clean the bite with soap and water or alcohol -- and if you're worried about disease transmission, follow up with the appropriate steps.

For more helpful tips this summer, here's what to know about using weed killer safely around your pets and five inexpensive ways to give your patio a tech upgrade

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.