Summer is the perfect time to enjoy the great outdoors. It’s also the height of tick season. Whether you’re spending a week at camp or taking an afternoon hike, you may come across ticks, especially in deep wooded areas.
There are two main types of ticks: Deer ticks and dog ticks. Deer ticks are brown and about the size of a pencil point - they carry Lyme disease. Dog ticks are about the size of a pencil eraser and do not transmit Lyme disease.
Here is what you need to know about tick prevention:
- To minimize tick exposure, wear long sleeves and long pants in woods or tall grass. Also tuck pants into boots and shirts into pants to minimize exposure.
- Look for bug repellents that contain DEET, a chemical that effectively repels ticks and other bothersome insects.
- Protect pets with repellents as they often expose their owners to ticks.
- Treat clothing with repellents containing permethrin. (Do NOT use this on skin.)
- Ask a family member or friend to give you a thorough check if you think you might be carrying ticks. The presence of one indicates the possibility of several.
If you find a tick, they’re easily removed at home. All you need is a pair of fine, blunt tweezers and a little patience. Dr. Aaron Carlisle, family medicine physician at Community Physician Network, recommends the following steps for tick removal:
- Use tweezers to grasp tick as closely to the skin as possible.
- Pull the tick upwards with steady pressure - do not jerk or twist. (If the tick’s mouth parts remain in the skin, don’t worry. The body will expel them on its own.)
- Clean bite area with rubbing alcohol.
- Wash hands thoroughly after disposing of the tick.
"Avoid home remedies such as nail polish remover or burning the tick with a match," said Carlisle. "This increases the transmission of Lyme disease."
Learn the signs and symptoms of Lyme Disease online, or ask your doctor for more information.