The great outdoors is calling. Unfortunately, so are the ticks.
As we unpack our tents and start hiking this summer, we can’t forget that ticks are waiting for us. These outdoor pests are more than just annoying.
According to the CDC, ticks can infect humans with bacteria, viruses, and parasites that could all potentially cause serious illnesses. Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever are just a couple of them!
Read on below to see how you can best avoid, deter, prevent, and remove ticks this summer.
The best way to stop ticks is obviously to avoid them in the first place. First, let’s clear up some common myths.
Ticks do not jump or drop from branches as you walk below. They are found primarily in grassy and wooded areas where they wait to cling on to whatever brushes by.
Stay in the center of defined trails when possible, and avoid brushing against branches or grass stalks.
You can also manage your home landscape to be fairly tick-free. Keep a buffer of open lawn between your house and woodlands or tall grasses. Keep this lawn section mowed under three inches, as this will reduce the humidity that ticks require.
But let’s be honest. Sometimes it’s just not an option to avoid ticks. In that case…
If you can’t avoid tick habitat, or even as an extra measure of protection when you can, here are some good methods to deter ticks.
First, consider treating your clothing, tent, gear, and boots with products containing at least 0.5% permethrin. This chemical deters ticks and remains active through several washings.
Next, apply insect repellent to your skin to deter any ticks that make it past the permethrin. Use repellents with 20-30% DEET, or make your own DIY repellent if applying chemicals to your skin doesn’t appeal to you.
Find and Prevent Ticks
The right clothing choices can also do wonders in stopping ticks from finding their way to your skin. Wear light-colored clothing to easily spot them crawling on you.
If it’s hot, wear performance clothing so you can be comfortable in long sleeves and pants. Though it might not be the coolest-looking, tuck your pant legs into your socks and your shirt into your pants.
If they’re really bad, you could even duct tape around your seams to make sure nothing gets through. All of these things can prevent ticks from getting past your defenses.
When you come indoors, toss your clothes into the dryer for an hour on high to kill any tick still attached.
Even if you’re camping, change clothes when you’re done outside, and do a tick check in the hot spot areas. These include under your arms, near your belly button, the back of your knees, at your hairline, and around your waist and groin area.
You tried all the other methods, but a tick still got through? They’re persistent, and that’s why they’re such a nuisance.
The best way to remove a tick is to use fine-pointed tweezers to grasp the tick as close to its head as possible, and to pull slowly straight outward. If the tick is slightly embedded into your skin already, that may mean grasping some skin too.
Do not grab and squeeze the body, as you could actually force some of its stomach contents into your body, putting you at risk for infection.
Typically, ticks need to be attached for over 36 hours before bacteria can be transmitted to a human host. But even if it’s only been a couple hours, disinfect the bite site and pay attention to it for 48 hours to see if it becomes irritated.
Enjoy your tick-free summer!
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