Manage tick exposure as for a ounce of prevention on “TICK BITES”

If you have Lyme disease you want to lower your risk of re-infection.  If you don’t have it you don’t want it. It wastes a lot of energy to worry every time you go outside.  To alleviate the potential for a tick bite and worry about it.  Actively manage and reduce your tick exposure.

Here are some ideas to help deal with tick exposure without giving up all your favorite outdoor activities. I use a 3 pronged approach that I share here.  This is my best practice but no guarantee.   I hope you find this information helpful.  If you’ve got any good ideas to add- Contact me on facebook.

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Lower Tick exposure with these tipsFirst TICK BASICS

  • Ticks crawl, they don’t fly.
  • They are common on deer, but also all small wild mammals, chipmunks squirrels, moles, voles, raccoons, more critters than I can list.
  • Common are from the size of a pencil top to the size of a pin point
  • Ticks are active all year round, NOT JUST SUMMER
  • They are found in cities and suburbs as well as woods and fields.
  • Ticks carry many diseases and parasites.
  • Deer ticks and dog ticks can transmit Lyme disease.
  • Deer tick nymphs are very small smaller than is easily visible.
  • Ticks are tough.  Squishing them may not kill them.  Flush ticks or save securely for testing. Do not dispose of ticks in the trash.

Ticks inject fluid and potentially bring pathogens into your body when they first bite you and attach to your skin. The best time to get them is before they attach.  I manage my tick exposure during outdoor activities using a 3 tiered approach

  1. Minimize Contact
  2. Actively Block & Repel
  3. Find and Remove

Here are the details

Manage Tick Exposure A 3 Tiered approach

Minimize Contact with Ticks

  • Avoid wooded and brush areas with high grass or flowers or leaf litter.Tick exposure can be high in tall grasses and fields of flowers
  • Walk in the center of trails.
  • Don’t
    • lay in the the grass
    • sit on wood piles
    • lean up against trees
    • sit on or lean up against stone walls

Avoiding these ultra high contact areas is good practice to minimize contact with ticks.

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Repel Ticks –  Use of chemical repellents is always a choice.

  • Wear long pants with sneakers or hiking boots. Tuck your pant legs into your socks, and keep your shirt tucked in at the waist. In areas where ticks are rampant, you might even want to wrap some duct tape around your ankles, over the top of your socks. You’ll look a little geeky, but this makes it more difficult for the tick to get to your skin. Sometimes when I do this I wear boots that cover it up.
  • Wear a hat to protect head and scalp.
  • Wear gloves to protect hands when doing yard work or climbing.  Tuck sleaves into gloves and tape if necessary.
  •  At your choice use repellents that contain 20 to 30% DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) on your skin and clothing for protection that lasts up to several hours. Always follow product instructions. This is too strong for kids to play around with.  Parents should apply this product to their kids.  Be sure to avoid your hands, eyes, and mouth during application.  OR
  • Use products that contain permethrin only on clothing. Be sure to avoid your hands, eyes, skin and mouth during application. Permethrin is Not Safe to use directly on the skin!  Don’t do it.  Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents with products containing 0.5% permethrin. Treatment remains protective through several washings.
  • Permethrin pre-treated clothing like socks and pants are available for purchase on the internet or in sporting goods.  Follow the product instructions when using and applying permethrin.
  • Click this link for additional information on Deet and Permethrin.

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Find and Remove Ticks from Your Body

  • Wear light colored clothing so you can see them more easily.
  • Make it your routine to conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror and a flash light to view all parts of your body when you come back from tick-infested areas. Do this before you and the gang go all over the house.
    • Parents  check children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.
  • Bathe or shower ASAP after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off so you can more easily find any ticks that are crawling on you.
  • Collect any ticks you find for testing or disposal.  Put them in a sealable platic bag with a damp paper towel.  Label with the date if you want to send them for testing.  Do not throw them in the trash, they will crawl out.
  • Examine gear car and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and day packs.
  • Tumble clothes or gear in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks. Research shows many ticks can make it through the washing machine, even when you wash in hot water. Most ticks will die during a cycle in the hot, dry air of your clothes dryer, though.
  • If a tick has attached broken the skin, don’t panic!  Take action right away.  Take a picture of the bite site, Remove the tick carefully.  Keep the tick for testing. Have the tick tested for Lyme and co-infections.  Call the doctor.  Bring the ILADS guidelines to the appointment.  See this page for all the details. 

 

Example of my practice –

Always wear long pants, long sleeves and a hat.  I tuck any time I am in the woods or fields.  My socks get taped to my pants and  Iwear boots for prolonged exposure or things like yard work.  I wear double gloves neoprene on the inside that I tape to my sleeve.  Over that I wear garden gloves on the outside for yard work. I make my best effort to protect myself then really try to enjoy my time outdoors.

When done I check the car and gear for ticks while in the garage or breezeway. Go in the house Strip down throw clothes in the dryer.  I then wash and dry as normal.  Do the body checks and head for the shower. Check again in the shower.

 

Develop a practice that helps lower your tick exposure and raise your peace of mind!  Please share this with anyone who might need it.  Send your comments and best practice ideas to share with the community.

 

 References:

http://www.cdc.gov/ticks/avoid/on_people.html

http://www.centralmasslyme.org

http://www.whatislyme.com