Simple ways to avoid tick bites this summer

tick bitesCC: Catkin at Pixabay

Tickborne diseases are on the rise in the United States. Between 2016 and 2017, lyme disease cases increased by 6,000. Similarly, almost 2,000 more people experienced Anaplasmosis. One way to reduce your risk of falling ill from such diseases is to avoid tick bites. As your risk of tick bites rises during the summer, now’s the best time to start your preventative action.

The types of diseases tick bites cause

Before we move onto tick bite prevention, it’s a good idea to look at some of the diseases they cause. They include:

  • Lyme disease: A form of arthritis that can cause joint and heart problems when you don’t access antibiotics quickly enough.
  • Spotted fever rickettsiosis: A bacterial disease that soon becomes deadly without the right antibiotics.
  • Babesiosis: Microscopic parasites infect the red blood cells. This condition varies in severity.
  • Tularemia: A bacterial disease that results in infected ulcers.
  • Powassan virus: A rare virus that may result in encephalitis.

 

The type of disease you’re likely to develop following a tick bite will vary according to where you are. For example, spotted fever rickettsiosis is more common in the Rocky Mountains. Additionally, Babesiosis is more likely when you’re in a North-East or Midwest state.

Do any medications prevent tick bites?

Although there aren’t any oral medications you can use to prevent tick bites, you can apply DEET. DEET is the same spray chemical you use to prevent mosquito bites. You’ll find insect repellant sprays featuring various concentrations of DEET.

How can you prevent bites?

The best way to prevent a bite is to avoid coming into contact with ticks in the first place. The CDC provides a map that details which states have the highest risk. While in those states, you’re more likely to experience a tick bite in areas where there’s high grass, forests, and mountainous regions. In some cases, you may find ticks in your garden.

As many people love spending time in the great outdoors, it isn’t possible to avoid heading into tick-infested areas altogether. However, you can take the following measures to make a bite less likely:

  • Wear long clothing that isn’t easy for a tick to enter.
  • Tuck your trousers into your boots or wear elastic bands around the bottom of them to protect your legs.
  • Wear light-colored clothing, as this makes it easier to see ticks.
  • When exploring woodlands, stick to paths and avoid bushes and shrubs. Ticks love to hide in bushes and shrubs.

Other tactics you can try include checking yourself for ticks when you leave outdoor areas where they’re common. Always check your children and their clothes, too.

How should you respond when you get a tick bite?

If you do encounter a tick bite, try to remove it within 36 hours. Unless you notice the bite as it happens, don’t delay the removal. It takes at least 36 hours for Lyme disease to set in, which is why acting within this window is so important. The best way to remove one safely is by using tweezers. Avoid approaches that involve burning the tick, as they’re usually ineffective and you’ll probably injure yourself.

Finally, if you do notice any flu-like symptoms or strange rashes, always see a physician. It’s difficult to tell tick bite symptoms apart, so seeing a professional gives you the best chance of accessing the right antibiotics.

About the Author

Laura McKeever
Laura has been a freelance medical writer for eight years. With a BSc in Medical Sciences and an MSc in Physician Assistant Studies, she complements her passion for medical news with real-life experiences. Laura’s most significant experience included writing for international pharmaceutical brands, including GSK.