Here’s Something That Will Tick You Off
Your tick prevention program may be missing a few components
With the tick population on the rise, Lyme disease is, too. All it takes is one bite from an infected bug to be exposed. Given that the bite can be painless, you may not even realize you’ve been exposed until it’s too late. Don’t be mad; be proactive. Here’s what to know:
Oh Deer, Ticks are Here
If the deer population is high in your area, chances are you’re at a greater risk. Ticks are also more prominent in areas of high humidity, as well as grassy and wooded areas. Summertime, between June and late August, is generally the height of tick season, though deer ticks can be found year-round.
Don’t Give Ticks a Place to Hide
Brush, tall grass, landscape debris — ticks love it all. You can find them close to the ground in environments that enhance the humidity in which they thrive. You won’t find ticks in trees — that’s an old wives’ tale — but anywhere with a thick understory is fair game. Keep your grass trimmed, leaves raked, and brush cleared to avoid giving ticks a welcoming home. Also, prune trees to maintain adequate sunlight on the lawn; this well help reduce the humidity.
Establish a Perimeter
Install a 3-foot wide barrier of rocks or wood chips between your lawn and wooded areas. This will help prevent tick migration. Place the same barrier around recreational areas, such as playgrounds and patios, too. You should also consider locating your recreational areas in a sunny part of the landscape, if possible. For additional protection, your landscape partner may also recommend a monthly application of pesticide designed to decrease your tick population. An added benefit of this treatment is that it helps control fleas, too.
Dress for Success
When hiking, camping, or working in an area where you may be exposed to ticks, stay covered. Wear long sleeves and long pants, tucked into your socks. Light colored garments are preferred, as it makes it easier to spot ticks on your clothing. Use an EPA-approved repellent designed for ticks and apply to your skin per the label’s instructions. You may also want to consider treating your clothes with permethrin spray, or purchasing pre-treated clothing, which is far more effective than insect repellent alone.
Check Off the List
Once you come indoors, be sure no ticks have hitched a ride inside. Here’s what to do:
- Give your clothes, gear, and pets a once over to make sure they do not have any ticks.
- Put your clothes directly into the dryer and tumble on high heat for 10 minutes to kill any ticks. Add additional time if your clothes are damp. If you need to wash the clothes first, use hot water.
- Take a shower within two hours of coming inside and do a full-body check for ticks. Be thorough — ticks are often found in hard-to-see places, such as your hair, inside your ears, and inside your belly button. Immature ticks, called nymphs, are most often responsible for transmitting Lyme disease bacteria to humans. Nymphs are less than 2 mm in size (about the size of poppy seed) and difficult to see, which is even more reason to be thorough in your examination.
If You Find One, Don’t Freak Out
In most cases, it takes at least 36 to 48 hours for an attached tick to transmit the Lyme bacteria. This is why early detection is so important. Should you find a tick on yourself or others, fine-tipped tweezers are the best approach for removal. The trick is to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible with the tweezers, pulling upward in a steady motion without twisting to avoid breaking off the mouth into the skin. After, clean the area with rubbing alcohol and soap or water. The tick can be flushed down the toilet or killed by placing it in rubbing alcohol or a sealed bag.
Prevention is the best medicine for Lyme disease. Follow these steps to avoid the risk this tick season.
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