Ticks induce more fear than bears and snakes, and for good reason. These minuscule little creepy-crawlers can leave outdoorspeople with a multitude of diseases, the most famous being Lyme Disease. While there is treatment for Lyme Disease, it is not always easy to diagnose in a timely manner, thus causing panic among even the most experienced hikers and campers. Protecting yourself from ticks requires meticulous processes, but it can be done. Here’s how:
Know When and Where to Expect Ticks
A tick encounter can happen any time of the year, but most cases occur in warmer months (Spring-Early Fall). Be especially vigilant during these times. Additionally, you don’t have to be in the deep forest to become a feasting ground for a tick. They can be lurking in the grasses of your own backyard! The most common tick habitats are high grasses, leaf-covered ground and wooded areas that support other wildlife.
Pre-Treat Before Heading Out
Whether playing with your dog in your yard or taking a stroll along a marshy hiking trail, there’s a chance you’ll be exposed to ticks. When the risk is high (a marshy hike) it is best to wear clothing treated with permethrin. There are several treatment options available, just be sure to know how many days and washes your treatment will last. Use bug spray approved for use against ticks (DEET or other select chemicals).
Check for Ticks
Even when the risk of ticks is relatively low (staying in your backyard), do tick checks everyday (no more than 24 hours between checks!). Be sure to use s buddy or mirrors to check your entire body, especially in crevices (armpits, ears, kneepits, groin) and your waist, hairline and belly button.
Pets and gear can bring ticks in from the outdoors, too. Check your pets for ticks and treat the with prevention medications. When possible, immediately dry your gear in high heat for at least 10 minutes. Wash your gear in hot water and take a hot shower.
If you Find a Tick
If you find a tick crawling around your body or on gear, removing it with your fingers is fine. You can try to kill it by squeezing it or just throw it back into the woods. Either way, be sure to wash your hands with hand sanitizer then with soap and water as soon as possible. If you’re at home, flush it down the toilet. However, if you find a tick latched on, use tweezers to grab the tick as close to your skin as possible. Pull backwards firmly and steadily (don’t try to twist it out!). Save the tick in a plastic bag and make an appointment with your doctor. If part of the tick breaks off into your body, it will come out on its own or your doctor will remove it. Wash the bite site and your hands, then wash the bite site with alcohol.
Fear of ticks shouldn’t keep you from enjoying the outdoors. It may take a little longer before you head out and after you’re back home, but following these steps will ensure that you protect your pets and yourself from ticks.
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