Tick Season is Here: How to Avoid Tick Bites
The summer is the perfect time to spend time outdoors from hanging out in your backyard to hiking wooded trails. Unfortunately, summer is also the prime season for ticks. Ticks often carry diseases such as Lyme disease, making it important to avoid ticks whenever possible. Here are some tips to avoid tick bites this summer.
Use Proper Repellent
It’s important to make sure you’re using repellent that’s effective in fending off ticks. Repellents with 20% or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 are recommended by the CDC. While these repellents are effective, they can be toxic. Therefore you should avoid applying these repellents to your eyes, hands, or mouth.
Treat Clothing With Permethrin
If you know you’re going to be spending some serious time outside, such as a deep woods hike, you should treat your clothing with products containing permethrin. It’s important to spray as much clothing as possible such as your pants, socks, hiking boots, hat, etc. This treatment will be protective through several washings, but pre-treated clothing can also be purchased, which will provide longer-lasting protection.
Avoid Tick-Heavy Areas
Whenever possible, avoid walking through wooded and brushy areas or areas with high grass. Ticks tend to hide in these areas, increasing your likelihood of contact. When hiking, walk in the center of trails. Stay in the sun whenever possible, as ticks tend to stay in shaded, cool areas.
Clear Habitats for Tick-Carriers
Small animals such as mice, woodchucks, and rabbits often carry ticks. In order to decrease the likelihood of tick bites in your yard, clear out all possible habitats for these small animals such as brush and leaf piles. Clearing out these areas will reduce the number of tick-carriers in your yard and will give the ticks themselves less places to hide.
Cover as Much of Your Body as Possible
When hiking or entering tick-heavy areas, it’s important to cover as much of your body as possible. Tuck your pants into your socks to avoid tick bites around your ankles. Make sure your arms are covered and your shirt is not loose enough on your body that ticks can crawl underneath it.
Examine Your Pets
One of the biggest carriers of ticks is your pet! Pets often explore the great outdoors and end up in tick-heavy areas. Ticks often latch onto your pets, bringing the ticks inside your home. Take proper precautions to decrease the likelihood of tick bites in your pets and thoroughly check your pets for ticks after each time they’ve been outside.
Conduct Full-Body Tick Checks
After being outside, a tick can remain on your body without having latched on. For this reason, it’s important to check your entire body for ticks after spending time outside. Be sure to examine thoroughly, checking areas that were not exposed as well as those that were. If a tick is removed shortly after it has attached, your likelihood of disease is significantly lower.
Bathe or Shower ASAP
If you have spent time outside, you should bathe or shower immediately after coming inside. Using extremely hot water can kill the tick or cause it to detach. Often times, bathing is a good way to conduct a thorough search for ticks because you will be more likely to check your entire body.
Tumble Dry Your Clothes
In many cases, ticks will end up in your clothes. It’s important to kill these ticks before they have a chance to get loose in your house or bite someone. For this reason, it’s a good idea to tumble dry your clothes after spending time outside. Drying your clothes on high heat for 10 minutes will kill any ticks on your clothing, although you may need additional time if your clothes are damp. If you need to wash your clothing, do so with hot water, as cold water will not kill the ticks. After washing, tumble dry on low heat for 90 minutes or high heat for 60 minutes to ensure that any ticks are dead.