Wood (dog) tick on finger

Tick safety

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:

  1. Use tweezers to grasp tick as closely to the skin as possible. 
  2. 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.)
  3. Clean bite area with rubbing alcohol.
  4. 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.