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December 28, 1984

Removal of Ticks

JAMA. 1984;252(24):3368. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350240018025

To the Editor.—  The tenacious tick is ever with us.1,2 Removal methods are part of the folklore, and, in my experience, the following empirically-derived technique has never failed to remove a skin-hugging tick (and its embedded mouthparts). I devised the method and used it almost daily when I was a camp physician years ago.The materials needed are a pocket knife (or similar blade), large nail (eight- to ten-penny size), and matches.The procedure is as follows.

  1. Warm the tip of the nail in a match flame.

  2. Slide the flat of the knife blade under the tick's abdomen.

  3. Place the heated nail tip on the tick's dorsal surface so that the beastie is sandwiched between the knife blade and the nail.

  4. When the tick's legs begin to wiggle (a response to the heat), turn the knife blade 90 degrees so that the tick, now at