I was told many times when I was little that if you don't twist ticks counter-clockwise and instead just jerk them out, the head goes into your bloodstream and can be dangerous. It wasn't until recently I realized that I have no support for that belief, and it might just be an old wives' tale.

Is it really bad to just pull a tick out? Will the head really go into the bloodstream if it stays? (This seems very unlikely considering how thick skin is.) Is there any proven danger to pulling a tick straight out?

  • Please edit your question. Your actual question is about pulling versus twisting, but your title suggests it is about twisting clockwise versus counter-clockwise. What is it? Are you actually asking 2 questions? Then say so.
    – user22865
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 13:34
  • @JanDoggen My title doesn't suggest any such thing. It suggests weather you should twist it counter-clockwise vs some other removal technique, but alternative method is not suggested in the title at all.
    – Kit Sunde
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 13:39

1 Answer 1


You shouldn't twist a tick at all. See this website sponsored by the National Institutes of Health for proper tick removal techniques:

If a tick is attached to you, follow these steps to remove it:

  1. Grasp the tick close to its head or mouth with tweezers. Do not use your bare fingers. If needed, use a tissue or paper towel.

  2. Pull it straight out with a slow and steady motion. Avoid squeezing or crushing the tick. Be careful not to leave the head embedded in the skin.

  3. Clean the area thoroughly with soap and water. Also wash your hands thoroughly.

  4. Save the tick in a jar and watch carefully for the next week or two for signs of Lyme disease.

  5. If all parts of the tick cannot be removed, get medical help. Bring the tick in the jar to your doctor's appointment.

• Do NOT try to burn the tick with a match or other hot object.

Do NOT twist the tick when pulling it out.

• Do NOT try to kill, smother, or lubricate the tick with oil, alcohol, vaseline, or similar material

It is possible to remove a tick and accidentally leave the mouth parts in, but the mouth parts traveling to the bloodstream is not the concern. The concern focuses around the increased chances of infection (both from the wound, and because the mouth parts may still secrete saliva, which might transmit disease).

  • 1
    Are we watching the tick for Lyme disease? If yes what are the signs? If no why bother keeping the tick? Commented Mar 16, 2011 at 17:10
  • 1
    @Stephen. Among other diseases, yes. The link above contains info on four common tick-borne diseases and some symptoms to watch for following tick removal. My mom always used to keep the ticks in baggies in the freezer, and she'd pretty much leave it there until it was replaced by the next tick, or she did a defrost of the freezer.
    – Dogmafrog
    Commented Mar 16, 2011 at 17:21
  • 16
    I suppose i should clarify, you're not watching the TICK, you're watching the person the tick was removed from. Should symptoms arise, having the tick available for your doctor could aid in diagnosis and help with disease warnings.
    – Dogmafrog
    Commented Mar 16, 2011 at 17:26
  • 1
    And the reason why twisting won't help is that ticks have neither a right-hand-thread nor a left-hand-thread, but simply barbs that attach to your skin. Commented Oct 4, 2011 at 12:58

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