During spring and summer, we are in full blown tick season here in the South! This means if you are out and about, it is important that you take precautions to prevent yourself from contracting a tick-borne disease. Common activities such as hiking, camping, sitting in the shade or being near trees, grass, vegetation, or shrubs are just a few ways to pick up a tick. Here are some suggestions for preventing, finding, and removing ticks:
- When hiking, remain in the center of the trail to reduce your chances of encountering a tick.
- If you are going to be in an area with a lot of trees or bushes, wear long sleeves, pants, socks, and a hat. You can also use a bug spray on your skin or your clothes.
Checking for Ticks:
You should always check yourself and children for ticks after being outdoors. The easiest and most effective way to do this is to immediately shower or bathe upon returning indoors. The process of bathing will help you remember to check the places ticks most often scurry to: in your hair, in and behind your ears, armpits, the bend of the arm, inside the belly button, around the waist, in the groin area, and in the bend of your legs. Ticks may also hitch a ride into your house on your clothing. If you can, remove your clothes before going into your home and leave them outside until you can check them thoroughly or wash them.
Removing a Tick:
If you do find a tick, be sure to remove it. Here is the way the Center for Disease Control suggests a tick be removed from one’s body:
1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin.
3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water
4. If you develop a rash or fever within several weeks of removing a tick, see your doctor. Be sure to tell the doctor about your recent tick bite, when the bite occurred, and where you most likely acquired the tick.
(My friend puts the tick into a zip-lock bag and writes the date on it. She keeps this for a month. This way, if she does have complications, they know exactly what type of tick she was bitten by and can better narrow down the type of disease she may have contracted.)