Don't let ticks take a bite out of your summer
Summer is here and it’s time for some outdoor fun. But before you enjoy a long hike, embark on a family camping trip or even spend some time in your garden or yard, remember to protect yourself from ticks – and other unexpected guests that may be lurking outdoors! Ticks, in particular, can attach to any part of your body and can spread Lyme disease through their bites.
So, what is Lyme disease and how do I get it?
- Lyme disease, or borrelia burgdorferi, is a disease that’s spread through the bite of infected ticks. It can lead to fever, headaches, rash and other serious complications involving your heart, joints and nervous system.
- Infected ticks can bite you anywhere, but are often found in hard to see areas such as your armpit, scalp or groin. In most cases, the infected tick is attached for 36-48 hours before the Lyme disease bacteria is transmitted to you.
How can I avoid getting bitten by a tick?
- When enjoying the great outdoors, try to stay away from heavily wooded and/or bushy areas with high grass.
- If you do take a hike or walk along a trail, always stay in the center of the trail
- No matter the outdoor activity, always wear repellents that contain 20-30% DEET on exposed skin. When applying repellent to kids, parents should follow the product application instructions and take care to avoid their hands, eyes, and mouth.
- If camping, treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents, with products that contain 0.5% permethrin.
I’ve been outdoors. How do I go about checking for ticks?
- Within two hours of coming inside, take a bath or shower.
- Conduct a full body check for signs of ticks – and remember that they lurk in small or hard to reach spots.
- Also, remember to thoroughly examine your gear and pets.
I found a tick on me. How can I remove it at home?
- As soon as you find it, grab the tick as close to the skin’s surface with fine-tipped tweezers. Then, pull upward with steady even pressure.
- Try not to twist or jerk the tick as this can cause parts to break off and remain in your skin. If part of the tick does break off, it’s best to contact your doctor.
- After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
If I find a tick on me, do I need to call my doctor?
- If you develop a rash or fever within several weeks of removing a tick, please contact your doctor immediately.
- If not, just be sure to tell your doctor about any recent tick bites during your next visit. Make sure to let them know when the bite occurred and where you most likely acquired the tick.