How to Avoid Tick Bites and Lyme Disease
Preventing tick bites should be on the top of every ones to-do list this summer, and there are some very simple ways you can do this. There is always a risk of being bitten by bugs when you spend time outdoors, but ticks are quickly becoming one of the worst buggy predators. People fear these tiny creatures because - if they carry it - they can transmit Lyme disease to the person they bite. If not caught in the early stages that could be a lifelong disease. Luckily, you don’t have to barricade yourself inside all summer, because by following the steps below you can reduce your chance of being bitten by a tick.
How To Prevent Tick Bites
Dress Correctly – when it’s hot outside people tend to wear less clothing to beat the heat, but this is the exact opposite of what you want to do. The less clothing you have on, the least protection you have against tick bites. Think of your clothes like body armor, you want every inch of yourself protected.
Tuck in Your Clothes – ticks like to crawl into inconspicuous spaces. They will crawl into your shoes, up into your pant legs, or down your shirt. Tucking your shirt into your pants, and your pants into your socks, can help you keep them from hiding in these hard to see places. It might look silly, but avoiding Lyme disease is not funny at all.
Wear Light Colors – you might think this is because ticks are attracted to dark colors, but that’s not the case. The actual reason why you should wear light-colored clothing is to make it easier to spot when a tick is crawling on you.
Try to Stay On Paths – most of us follow a path of some sort while hiking, but some trails might be safer than others. A well cleared path, especially gravel roads, are your best bet if you want to avoid ticks. Despite what you may have heard, ticks do not jump, and they won’t chase you. Typically, they end up on animals or humans by falling off a bush or tall grass that someone has brushed up against. Although, they may crawl on you when you’re sitting or lying down. They like wooded areas, shrubs, and tall grass, so if you stay out of areas like this, you should avoid them.
Use Bug Spray - for a long time people were warned to steer clear of bug spray that included deer on the ingredient list. Today, many are suggesting that you use deet based product in your fight against ticks. Lemon and eucalyptu are also good ingredients to look for when choosing a bug repellent.
Do Tick Checks Frequently - it can sometimes take up to an hour from the time a tick makes contact to the time they actually bite. This is important because spotting a tick before it bites is the only way to stay 100% safe from Lyme disease. Use a lint roller to check hard to see areas, especially if you're alone.
How To Remove a Tick
If you do find a tick, don't panic, and follow the steps below to remove it:
- You will need: tweezers, alcohol, antibacterial cream, and a container with a lid.
- Place the tweezers as close to the ticks mouth as you can. You should pinch right where your skin meets the exposed tick. You want to grab their mouth pieces to ensure you pull them out with the bug.
- Once you have a good grasp on the bug, pull upwards with steady, even pressure. Don't yank or twist the bug. This will cause the mouth to stay in your skin. Firm, even pressure upwards!
- When you have removed the tick, check to see if the mouth is intact. Many people mistake this for the bugs head, but it's actually mouth pieces.
- Place the tick in a container with a small amount of alcohol. The alcohol will both kill the bug, and keep it preserved if you need it for testing later.
- Clean the bite, and put a tiny bit of antibiotic ointment on it.
- Watch the area for several days. If you develop a rash anywhere on your body, contact your doctor immedietly. A bullseye rash is frequently a sign of Lyme disease, and may not show up where you were bitten.
- If you start feeling any flu-like symptoms, contact your doctor. Just because you didn't observe a rash does not mean you're safe.
What Kind of Tick Bit Me?
- File:Tick bite.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
This guide is an amazing resource when trying to determine what type of tick you've encountered. This site also features a handy mobile app for people on the go. If you spend a lot of time outdoors it's a good idea to have a tick guide handy.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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© 2018 Meagan Ireland