McHenry County Department of Health - Environmental Health
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Tick Removal

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Remove a tick from your skin as soon as you notice it.  It usually takes at least 36 hours for an infected tick to transmit Lyme Disease.


Tick Removal Tool


  • Do not use bare hands to remove the tick because the tick secretions may carry disease.
  • If using a tick removal tool, place the thumb and finger against the skin near the tick's location and stretch the skin taut.
  • Slide the tick removal tool under the tick.
  • Slowly lift the tool until the skin puckers and the tick releases.
  • If using tweezers, grasp the tick firmly with the tweezers as close to the skin as possible and gently, but firmly, pull it straight out.
  • Be careful not to squeeze, crush or puncture the body of the tick, which may contain infectious fluids.
  • If a tick removal tool or tweezers are not available, grasp the tick with a piece of tissue or cloth.
  • Occasionally, the head of the tick will become detached and remain under the skin.  The tick can no longer transmit disease at this point and will fester its way out of the skin.
  • Wash the area with soap and water and use a disinfectant on the bite site.
  • Clean the tick removal tool or tweezers with an alcohol wipe.
  • Place the tick in a plastic bag for possible identification and testing.  The tick may be identified at the McHenry County Department of Health or the University of Illinois Extension Office in Woodstock, Illinois.
  • In some cases, ticks may be sent to a laboratory for testing of Lyme Disease.
  • If you experience an unexplained illness with fever, contact your physician.  Be sure to inform him/her that you had possible exposure to ticks.



Folk remedies that have been used in the past to remove ticks can be dangerous and even increase your chances of contracting a tick transmitted disease.

Do not use petroleum jelly, a hot match, nail polish or other products to remove a tick.  Other techniques including using a soap-soaked cotton ball and swabbing it for a few seconds should not be used.  By manipulating the tick, you can cause the tick to regurgitate and/or increase its salivation - both which can increase the risk of infection.