With the warm weather of summer just around the corner, the beginning of tick season has arrived. Camping, hiking, gardening and playing outside can all increase your chances of exposure to a tickborne disease. But don’t let that stop you from enjoying the outdoors this summer!
Follow these tips to avoid ticks when you head outdoors.
- When hiking through tick-infested areas, wearing long-sleeved shirts and tucking your pants into your socks can keep ticks away from the skin on your arms and legs.
- Wear light colored clothing; ticks are easier to spot when they land on light colors.
- Use a product with 20% DEET or higher on your skin and clothes.
- When hiking, stay on the trail and avoid brushy areas where ticks are usually found.
- Do not sit on the ground – use chairs and picnic tables instead.
- Conduct a full body tick check when you get home, followed by a shower as soon as possible.
- Don’t forget to check your pets as well!
If you find a tick attached to your skin, don’t panic. Most ticks do not carry diseases and most tick bites do not cause serious health issues. Use fine-tipped tweezers to remove a tick. If you don’t have tweezers, put on gloves or cover your hands with tissue paper, then use your fingers. It’s important not to handle the tick with your bare hands.
- Grab the tick as close to its mouth as possible (the part in your skin).
- Do not grab the swollen body of the tick because you could push infected fluid into your body.
- Gently pull the tick straight out until it lets go. Do not twist the tick or its head may break off.
- Wash the area and your hands with a lot of warm water and soap.
If you cannot remove the tick yourself, contact your doctor. Don’t try to smother the tick with petroleum jelly, nail polish, gasoline or rubbing alcohol. You also do not want to burn the tick while it is stuck to your skin. Doing so can cause the tick to release fluid into your body and increase your chances of infection.
Here are some symptoms of a skin infection. See your doctor immediately if you have been bitten by a tick and experience any of these symptoms.
- Fever or chills
- Aches and pains
- Pain, swelling, redness, or warmth around the area
- Red streaks leading from the area
- Pus draining from the area