Ah, summer. Time to kick back, relax, and unwind with your friends and family. Unfortunately, though, if you plan to spend any time outdoors, you’ll also be relaxing with some unwelcome guests—ticks. Tick bites can be a nuisance or they can be dangerous. 2019 looks to be a year of higher than average ticks, lets talk about preventing ticks in the first place!
While you can get tick bites any time of year, these annoying creatures are especially prevalent during the warm months (from April–September). Here’s what you need to know to prevent tick bites so you can get back to enjoying your summer vacation.
What to do before you head outside
When it comes to tick bites, the best defense is a good offense. You can take a few simple precautions before you step foot outside to prevent ticks from coming near you:
1. Know where ticks like to hang out
In general, ticks live in wooded, grassy, and brushy areas. They could also live on animals. If you spend time outside hunting, gardening, camping, or just walking your dog, you could end up coming into contact with ticks. You could easily get ticks in your own backyard or around your neighborhood.
2. Use insect repellent
Spray insect repellent on before you leave the house to keep ticks at bay. Look for EPA-registered insect repellents that contain DEET, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), 2-undecanone, or para-methane-diol (PMD). Only use these products on people aged 4 years or older and follow the guidelines on the repellent.
3. Treat your gear and clothing
Prior to venturing into areas where you know there will be ticks, you can treat your gear and clothing with a product that has .5% permethrin. You can also buy clothing and gear that has already been treated with permethrin.
4. Avoid coming into contact with ticks
If you’re going to be outdoors for an extended period of time, you can take a few steps to minimize your chances of coming into contact with ticks. Walk in the center of wooded trails, for instance, and avoid walking through areas with high grass and high brush.
What to do when you come inside
Once you’re inside, take the time to do these things so you can spot ticks immediately and avoid further damage.
1. Check and wash your clothes
Check your clothes for ticks and remove any that you find. Even if you don’t see any ticks, it’s a good idea to wash your clothes immediately. Use hot water and dry with high heat. If your clothes don’t need to be washed, you can just put them in the dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill any ticks that are stuck on them.
2. Inspect your gear and pets
Ticks can latch onto gear and pets, only to later find their way onto a human. Thoroughly inspect your gear and pets once you get inside and remove any ticks that you find.
Ideally, you should shower immediately after coming inside. If that’s not possible, try to shower within two hours of coming inside. Doing so has been shown to greatly reduce the risk of getting Lyme disease. Showering can get ticks off of your body and kill them. Do a tick check while you’re in the shower. If you have young children, you can inspect them for ticks while they’re in the bath or shower. Look particularly in these areas:
- Between legs
- Around hairline
- Around the ears
- Inside belly button
- Around the waist
- In the back of the knees
Don’t let a fear of ticks keep you from getting outside! Use these tips to keep you and your family safe from ticks this summer. If you think you’ve been bitten by a tick, see your doctor.