Don’t let a tick make you sick

ticks

Kids are heading off to summer camp.  Adults are heading off for camping in the woods.  It’s time for a refresher on dealing with ticks.

Ticks can be more than an annoyance.  They can cause some serious diseases.  The most well known are probably Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever but also AnaplasmosisBabesiosis and Ehrlichiosis.

Here’s what the Centers for Disease Control recommends for avoiding ticks and dealing with tick bites:

Avoid Direct Contact with Ticks

  • Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
  • Walk in the center of trails.

Repel Ticks with DEET or Permethrin

  • Use repellents that contain 20 to 30% DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) on exposed skin and clothing for protection that lasts up to several hours. Always follow product instructions. Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding hands, eyes, and mouth.
  • Use products that contain permethrin on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents with products containing 0.5% permethrin. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and may be protective longer.
  • Other repellents registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Find and Remove Ticks from Your Body

  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
  • Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. Parents should check their 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.
  • Examine gear 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 dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors.
    • If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed.
    • If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended. Cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks effectively. If the clothes cannot be washed in hot water, tumble dry on low heat for 70 minutes or high heat for 40 minutes. The clothes should be warm and completely dry.

How to remove a tick

DON’T try to burn the tick, douse it with alcohol or coat it with petroleum jelly.  Instead…

  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. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal. Clipart image showing how to remove an embedded tick with a pair of tweezers.
    CDC image.
  3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
  4. Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.

Check the tick guide

The CDC has a great guide which will show you pictures of different types of ticks and maps of the parts of the country where they’re most prevalent.

 

 

 

About the Author

Ed Tobias
Ed Tobias brings more than four decades of reporting and news management experience to his work at Rx411. Tobias managed news coverage for Associated Press Radio for over twenty years. This included coverage of the 9/11 attacks, the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, the death of Princess Diana, the Challenger and Columbia shuttle disasters and national election primaries, conventions and campaigns. He was part of the team that built AP’s on-line video operation. Prior to joining AP, Tobias was News Director at all-news WTOP in Washington, D.C.