Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Avoid Tick Bites, Like a Girl Scout!

As much as we love the outdoors, it isn’t always the gentlest on us—mosquito bites, sunburns, poison ivy, and even tick bites are an ugly part of summer. Protecting yourself from ticks is especially important because deer ticks (found primarily in the eastern United States) can carry Lyme disease.

Before you hit the trails to explore, keep this advice in mind to help ward off ticks in the summer as well as all year round.

• When you’re deciding what to wear, pick light-colored clothing, long sleeves and pants, and closed-toe shoes. And don’t forget to tuck your pants into your socks!

• Spray tick repellent over your shoes and ankles. (Ticks climb on your body first by crawling up your shoes and socks.) Before buying a repellent, check the label to be sure it works for ticks. If you’re allergic to any of the ingredients, look for one with oil of lemon eucalyptus as an all-natural alternative!

• Stay on the trail and avoid places with high grass, brush, and leaf clutter.

• After every outdoor activity, check your body for ticks (ask a buddy for help!). Don’t forget to check small crevices, like armpits, between the toes, behind the knees, the navel, behind the ears, on the scalp and under the hair, and on the nape of the neck.

• If you spot a tick, remain calm and ask an adult for help removing it. You can remove it by grabbing the tick as close to the skin as possible with a pair of tweezers and quickly pulling it straight out. If you’re in an area where Lyme disease is common, save the tick in a sealable plastic bag and ask your doctor test it.

• To be extra safe, when you return from camp or hiking, throw your clothes in the dryer and run it on high heat for at least 10 minutes to kill any stowaway ticks.

• Ticks and tick bites are not always easy to spot, so if you feel any of the common Lyme disease symptoms, see a doctor.

• If you have cats or dogs, check them for ticks frequently, too! Ask your veterinarian about tick preventives for your pets.

Spending time outdoors is fun, but always remember to wear the right clothing and check yourself for ticks afterward. Better safe than sorry!

For more information about ticks and Lyme disease, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.