They may be tiny, but ticks–specifically deer ticks–can do a lot of damage. Ticks carry a variety of nasty illnesses, including Lyme disease. Here’s a quick primer on tick safety to help you avoid bites and possible infection.
Prevention Is the Best Cure
Ticks are a very common pest throughout the United States. Deer ticks, or black-legged ticks, found in the Northeast and Midwest are the most likely culprits to spread Lyme disease, but all ticks can carry diseases.
To avoid getting bitten, it’s a good idea to wear clothing that covers as much skin as possible. Tuck your pants into your boots and wear a hat when you go out into the woods.
A repellent that contains DEET is effective at keeping ticks off your skin, but it’s not 100%. You can also spray your clothing, bedding, and other fabric gear with permethrin.
Ticks are most active between April and September. After spending time outdoors, do a thorough tick check. Don’t forget to go over your pets as well, since they can carry ticks inside.
There are a lot of articles out there on the internet that push folklore remedies for tick removal. The bad news is that most of them actually do more harm than good. An irritated tick will dig in harder or even regurgitate–dosing you with whatever diseases it was carrying.
Either get a specialized tick removal tool or just use needle-nosed tweezers. Remove ticks immediately after you find them–the clock is ticking the moment these insects begin to feed!
Grab the tick as close as possible to your skin. Don’t yank! Instead, pull slowly but firmly upwards to remove the tick. Clean the area with alcohol and then dispose of the tick by sealing it in tape and throwing it in the trash.
Is It Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease currently infects 300,000 people a year in the United States. This bacteria attacks your body’s nervous system and organs, resulting in
The first sign of infection is almost always a bulls-eye rash that develops within a week or two of the bite. You may also feel like you’ve come down the flu or experience an irregular heartbeat.
If the disease goes untreated, the later stages include arthritis and memory problems. The symptoms can continue to develop for years after the infection.
Ticks need to feed for at least 24 hours in order to transmit the bacteria. That’s why a daily tick check is essential for every person in your household if you live in a high-risk area.