Summertime is almost here, and with-it beach days, barbeques, and unfortunately, ticks. These tiny pests can send any hike or vacation into panic mode. They can latch onto both humans and pets, and can carry pathogens, like bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Luckily, there are simple steps one can take before going outside to drastically lower the chances of receiving a tick bite.
Always be conscious of where to expect to find them. Ticks prefer grassy, brushy areas, and even sometimes animals like deer. Going camping, hunting, or exploring in the woods can expose you to ticks and put you at risk, as you are venturing into their natural habitat.
Treat clothing and gear with products that contain Permethrin. Permethrin is an extremely strong anti-tick chemical that will remain active on treated areas even after going through the washing machine. Insect repellents containing DEET are helpful to repel biting pests. If you are short on sprays, tucking your pants into your socks can help keep ticks off your skin, allowing them to be easily brushed off.
Once you come inside, it is imperative you check your clothing for ticks. They are often carried into the house on clothing and can bite later. Always check your body for ticks after taking care of your clothes. Make sure to pay special attention to often ignored places like the under arms, back of the knees, and even hair.
Studies show that taking a shower within two hours of coming home can greatly reduce the likelihood of getting bit.
How to Remove a Tick
Oh no, you’ve been bit! Thankfully, there are ways to safely remove them. Using a pair of tweezers, grasp the tick as close to your skin as you can and gently pull the tick straight up. You want to make sure you go as closely to the skin as possible and avoid its bloated abdomen. If you twist the tick or pull too suddenly the tick’s mouth can break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, repeat the same procedure and remove the head. Once the tick has been detached, clean the bite area with soap and water. To dispose of the tick, either place it in rubbing alcohol, wrap it in tape, or flush it down the toilet. But before you dispose of it, you should take a photo of the tick to learn its species, as some are more prone to carry diseases.
Online tick-checking tools allow you to submit pictures of ticks to a public tick list, making it easy to check if you have encountered a dangerous species. In the weeks following a tick bite, be sure to check for common symptoms of tick-related illnesses. Fevers, chills, aches, and rashes are the most common symptoms. It is extremely important to seek medical attention immediately after noticing these symptoms, as they can have lasting effects on the body. With climate change increasing the chance of getting bit, downloading a tick checking app could help keep you informed and protected.
By Reid Arnold