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How to Protect Yourself from Ticks

how to protect against ticks

It’s that time of year again. It’s the season to be… bitten by ticks? Rather not, right? Because as you might know, ticks can transmit Lyme’s disease to humans. And that is something you just want to prevent. Luckily, you can strongly reduce your chances of getting bitten by using these easy steps.

Daily Checks

If you remove a tick soon after you have been bitten, there might not have been enough time yet for the disease to be transmitted. That means that even if the tick is carrying Lyme’s disease, you might prevent getting infected. It is therefore best to check for ticks often. A daily check might be a good solution. Every day you have been outside, take a moment in the evening to check yourself thoroughly. If you find a tick, remove it immediately.

Make your clothes tick-proof

Making your clothes tick-proof might sound like an impossible task. Those tiny things can crawl through the most invisible cracks. But keep in mind that ticks don’t fly or fall from trees. They only crawl up. So unless you are going to behave like a madman in the bushes, making the lower part of your body secure should help a lot. Putting your pants in your socks is a good way of keeping ticks out. Or at least keep in mind that bare skin will attract ticks by the dozen, so better to wear long trousers instead of shorts. (And the same goes for shirts with long or short sleeves, the more skin shows, the more risk of getting bitten by ticks.)

Image: ARS/USDA

Image: ARS/USDA

Repellents

It is very tempting to just rely on repellents to keep you safe. That would be ideal, just putting on some foul-smelling stuff and you don’t have to worry any more. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Although some repellents can help, they should never be the only measure. Always stick to proper clothing as well, and still check regularly. If you want to use a repellent, make sure to choose one that works for ticks. Compounds for midgets and other insects often rely on the ingredient DEET. (Which I don’t recommend, as it is a very nasty chemical, but that aside.) Ticks, however, are not affected by that chemical. So make sure you read the label carefully, or ask for help in your pharmacy.

Bitten? Don’t panic!

All of this might make “being bitten by a tick” sound very scary. But let me reassure you, it is not. When you do find a tick, hanging onto your body, don’t panic! Take your time to carefully remove it. For that, use a special tool, those are designed to take away the whole tick, including its legs. After removing, look closely to check if all of the tick is gone. Squash the removed tick between your fingernails, because it probably will still be alive and is quite hard to kill. Then disinfect the spot where the tick was and keep a close eye on that for the next month or so. If darkening of the skin appears, particularly a red circle, then you should go to you doctor for some medicine.

So, no need for worry. Just stay alert when you are going outside, and use these steps to protect yourself from ticks. Then it will all be fine.

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