Last week, we talked about tick bites. Today we will focus on ways to protect yourself from ticks and the diseases they carry.
Where do ticks live?
Ticks live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas, or sometimes on animals. They prefer areas that are humid, and protected from the hot sun, but this does not mean they are never in dry and sunny spots. Spending time outdoors doing activities like camping, gardening, hiking, hunting, all will potentially expose you to ticks. Many people get ticks in their own yard.
What time of year should you be worried about tick bites?
Ticks are most active during the warmer months, April through September. But with warming climate, tick exposure can now occur year-round in most parts of the U.S.
How can you reduce your risk of getting a tick bite?
If you plan an outdoor activity, particularly one that will be in a heavily wooded area, here are some precautions you can take before or during your outing to protect yourself:
Wear long-sleeved, light-colored clothing, with tightly woven fabric. The ticks will have less skin to target, and you can see them easier on the light-colored fabric. Tuck your pant legs into your socks, shoes, or boots so that ticks cannot easily get under your pant legs.
If you are walking through woods or grassy fields, stay near the center of trails.
Take steps to keep ticks out of your yard. There is a link below that will help you.
Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin or buy pretreated products. Permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing, and camping gear. Read the product label to be sure you use it properly.
Use insect repellants with 20% or more of DEET on exposed skin, or clothing if they are not treated with permethrin. Permethrin and insect repellants with DEET are readily available in sporting goods stores.
What should you do after you return from outdoors?
Check For Ticks – They could attach anywhere. Check your hair, body folds, inside your belly button, behind your knees, along your beltline, in or behind your ears, underarms, back, and between your legs (really everywhere!). If you can’t see all these places, get someone to help you check.
Check your child’s body for ticks.
Check your clothes and gear as well. You should wash clothes in hot water and/or put them in a hot clothes dryer for 15 minutes, which will kill the ticks.
Check your pets for ticks. You should also talk with your veterinarian about tick prevention products for your pets.
Take a shower soon after you have been on hikes or working in the yard.
You may find ticks that are crawling on you or your clothing and not yet attached. Put them into a ziptop baggie or flush them down the toilet. If you find a tick that is attached, refer to last week’s Health Tip for the best way to remove the tick. Or use this link: Tick Removal | Ticks | CDC
Use this link to find more information on avoiding ticks and preventing tick bites:
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us your question. We are here to help.
Dr. Anita Bennett MD – Health Tip Content Editor