The simplest and most effective act of prevention is to avoid being bitten by a tick.
This isn’t a very practical answer for campers and hikers and many people who enjoy working and playing outdoors; some occupations expose workers to ticks every day.
But there are some things you can do to reduce your risk.
Following is TBDA’s Top 10 tick prevention tips:
- Purchase tick-repellent clothing, especially clothing treated with permethrin, an insecticide that repels and kills ticks; you may spray your own clothing with permethrin or seek out brands such as Insect Shield, ExOfficio’s BugsAway, or ElimiTick from retailers like L.L. Bean and Eastern Mountain Sports, which remain effective for up to 70 washes
- Reduce the amount of skin exposed by wearing long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and hat
- EPA-approved insect repellent should be applied to exposed skin
- Venture in the center of woodland trails, and by all means avoid walking along any deer paths
- Every time you’ve been outside, check for ticks while you are out and as soon as you get back
- Never wait to shower—bathing as soon as possible will help in removing unattached ticks from your body (Bath time is the perfect time to carefully inspect for any unwanted hitchhikers)
- Take your clothes off and put them in the dryer at high heat for about 30 minutes to kill any ticks
- Inspect your pets when they come inside from the outdoors, as they may be transporting ticks that can then transfer to you
- Opt for light-colored clothing to make it easier to spot ticks
- Neatly tuck your shirt into your pants and your pants legs into your socks when possible to provide an extra line of defense against ticks
Remember these 10 things and you’ll stay safer.
These days, ticks are more than just an annoyance. One bite can make you sick, even change your life!
What to Do If You Are Bitten by a Tick
If you find a tick attached to your skin, there’s no need to panic. There are several tick removal devices on the market, but a plain set of fine-tipped tweezers will remove a tick quite effectively.
How to remove a tick
Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
If a tick is attached to your skin for less than 24 hours, your chance of getting Lyme disease is extremely small.
But to be safe, watch for signs or symptoms of Lyme disease such as the “bulls eye” rash—a red, expanding rash called erythema migrans (EM) and/or fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle, and joint aches. Some people may get these general symptoms in addition to an EM rash, but in others, these general symptoms may be the only evidence of infection.
The only distinctive hallmark unique to Lyme disease, the “bulls eye” rash, is absent in almost half of the people who become infected. The inadequacies of today’s laboratory tests make proper diagnosis difficult, and it can be extremely troublesome to treat tick-borne disease infections in their later phases.
If you develop a rash or fever within several weeks of removing a tick, see your doctor. Be sure to tell the doctor about your recent tick bite, when the bite occurred, and where you most likely acquired the tick.
The following prevention summary is provided by BLAST! Lyme Prevention:
Follow the BLAST Safety Steps
B athe or shower soon after coming indoors
L ook for ticks and remove with tweezers
A pply repellents for skin and/or clothing
S pray the perimeter of your yard for ticks
T reat your pets
Be TickSmart™ Stay TickSafe!
Note: This is Part 2 of a 3-part series about Lyme and tick-borne diseases
Worrying is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.