Posted on June 09 2020
Exploring the great outdoors is a favorite pastime for many. There's only one small problem - bugs. Flies, gnats, beetles, spiders, and ants are usually just a nuisance. However, ticks can be a deadly danger. Ticks are extremely small arachnids that bite. Ticks have flat, dark bodies with an oval shape and eight short legs. These harmful parasites crawl over the skin before latching on and feasting on your blood. Unlike mosquitoes, ticks can stay on your skin for up to 10 days.
Since ticks can be as little as one millimeter long, they're hard to detect. The unnoticed tick may then transmit a serious illness. Lyme disease is a common example spread by deer ticks. Rocky Mountain spotted fever, or RMSF, is another infection that can be fatal. Therefore, everyone must be cautious outdoors to avoid picking up ticks at any time of year. Here are four simple safety steps you should take to prevent tick bites and the diseases they carry.
1. Cover Up
Ticks need direct access to your skin to feed, so make your skin difficult to find. When spending time outside, cover up your skin. Wear a long-sleeved shirt and full-length pants. Push your pant legs into your boots or socks. If you're wearing sneakers, wrap a durable tape around the bottom of your pants. The same goes for your wrists to stop the creepy crawlies from sneaking under your sleeve. Tuck your shirt inside your pants to close off another access point.
Wearing white, tans, and other light colors is suggested to make ticks easier to see. Add a kerchief or bandana to safeguard your neck area. Donning a hat can stop the ticks from reaching your vulnerable scalp too. Covering up is harder in the warm summer months but still essential. Choose breathable fabric that will wick away your sweat. Throw your clothes into the dryer when you get home to kill any ticks you missed.
2. Watch Your Step
When it comes to tick prevention, staying on the beaten path is crucial. Ticks are most abundant in wooded areas that aren't mowed. Tall grass, downed tree limbs, and leave piles give ticks a hiding place to find their victim. When hiking, don't stray from the designated trail. Keep in the middle of the pathway to avoid overgrown grass. Suit up properly before hunting or camping in spots with excessive brush.
Remember ticks can also invade your personal space. Mow your yard regularly to avoid creating a tick haven. Treat your garden to repel biting ticks and other pests. Remove leaf litter and compost piles that could attract ticks. Put up fencing around your property to keep tick-infested wildlife away. Cut down old, rotting trees that block sunlight from your lawn. Ticks can't survive in direct sun for long. Minimizing the shady, moist areas in your yard will lower the tick population.
3. Spray Down
Though ticks are technically arachnids, insect repellents are still effective. The best tick repellents will have DEET and picaridin. Neither ingredient kills ticks, but they will deter the parasites from crawling on you. Natural oils in the repellent also mask your scent and fool the ticks. You can either spray or wipe the tick repellent onto your skin. If you're wearing sunscreen, apply that before repellent. Some avid outdoors people treat their clothes and gear with permethrin. Note permethrin should never be applied to skin.
Don't forget about your furry companions either. Dogs are attractive hosts for ticks to feed on. Spraying insect repellents that you use onto your dog isn't safe. The DEET in tick repellent can cause seizures in dogs. Instead, give your dog preventative tick medicine. Canine health companies make flea and tick treatments in a chewable tablet or liquid form. Special collars may be effective at stopping dangerous tick bites too. For added protection, you may make an all-natural repellent at home. Simply mix lemon eucalyptus oil with witch hazel.
4. Check YourselfNo tick prevention tactics offer a 100 percent guarantee. That's why you must perform a thorough tick check. Look over every square inch of your body. Pay close attention to tick hotspots, such as behind the knees, under the arms, and in the hair. Don't skip over the private parts, because ticks have been known to bite there.
Run your hands over your skin during the exam. You're more likely to feel these tiny suckers than see them. Map out your moles and make sure one isn't secretly a tick. Repeat the process for every adult, child, and pet who roamed outdoors. Hopping into the shower can help flush away loose ticks too.
If you find a tick, don't freak out. Remain calm and assess the situation. Keep in mind that most tick-borne diseases take about 36 hours to transmit. You have time to remove the tick with tweezers. Grasp the tick's body and steadily pull the parasite up. Don't wiggle the tweezers because the tick could break in half. Once the tick is removed, clean the bite with an alcohol wipe and alert your doctor. If your skin has a ring of redness or an irritating rash, seek medical attention immediately. The tick bite prevention tips above help reduce the likelihood of severe illness.