How to Treat Tick Lumps

By Mia Carter

Ticks are blood-sucking parasites that become partially embedded in the host's skin. Once the parasite is removed, the site of the tick bite will be similar in appearance to a black-fly bite--a red, painful, slightly swollen bump approximately 1 inch in diameter. Ticks can spread diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. The site of the tick bite can also become infected, and in the event of Lyme disease, a "bull's eye" rash may develop. During the tick removal process, a piece of the tick may be left behind, thereby preventing healing and dramatically increasing the chances of infection. For these reasons, careful monitoring and proper care of the tick bite is essential.

Wash your hands and the site of the tick bite using an anti-bacterial soap, and dry your hands using a paper towel instead of a hand towel to avoid re-contamination.

Examine the site of the tick bite using a magnifying glass to search for pieces of the tick. Tick remnants will have the appearance of black flecks. If no tick remnants are found, skip to Step 5.

Pour rubbing alcohol into the bottle's cap and place the tweezer tips in the alcohol for approximately two minutes to disinfect the tweezers.

Remove any pieces of the tick using tweezers. The entire tick must be removed in order to allow for healing.

Wash the tick bite site with anti-bacterial soap, and dry using a paper towel. You can also allow the site to air dry. Re-washing the site only is required if you've had to remove a piece of the tick.

Put a generous amount of Betadine on a cotton ball, and apply the liquid to the lump and the surrounding area. Allow the Betadine to air dry. The Betadine will kill bacteria; if unavailable, hydrogen peroxide will suffice.

Apply antibiotic ointment to a Q-tip and apply the ointment to the site of the tick bite, and immediately cover with a bandage.

Repeat steps 5 through 7 three times per day until the tick bite heals.

Apply an ice pack to the lump for at least 20 minutes if pain and swelling is present. Ice compresses can be applied as needed.

Monitor the tick bite for the formation of a "bull's eye rash"--red rings surrounding the tick bite. This rash, which can be several inches in diameter, can last for several days. The bull's eye rash is suggestive of Lyme disease. If observed, a trip to the physician will be required.

Monitor the tick bite for signs of infection such as increasing redness, swelling and pain. If the lump appears to be getting worse with time (instead of improving), a visit to a physician will be required.


Ice compresses are not necessary unless pain and moderate swelling is present. Ice compresses can be applied as needed.


Visit a physician ASAP if you are unable to remove the entire tick.

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