A silent predator is stalking you, and it’s rarely bigger than your pinkie nail. This predator, of course, is the tick.
Aside from having a nasty bite, these little buggers can carry debilitating diseases, such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
I have experienced from up close which devastating effects a single tick bite can cause. My ex girlfriend never knew she had been bitten by a tick but gradually and steadily she entered the world of Lyme disease.
My ex gf had to endure all kinds of horrible chronic conditions, from nerve pain to just feeling sick to a facial paralysis (half her face was paralyzed but luckily that was cured eventually. Which can not be said of all her ailments. So take tick prevention seriously because what these little bugs can cause is creepy as hell.
You’ll need the proper tools and know-how to avoid them, but should you find a little bloodsucker that’s grown abnormally “attached” to you, there are solutions for treating tick bites on both you and your loved ones.
12 Tick prevention tips
For those who love the outdoors, it’s difficult to avoid finding yourself besieged by the insect world, but there are some easy ways to keep ticks off your back (and other places).
Cover exposed skin
This is tough to do in the summertime when temperatures are hot and sticky, but making sure you wear your socks up over your pant legs will keep ticks from crawling up underneath your clothing.
When the summer rays cool off into fall, long-sleeved shirts will be a must. You should also wear a hat to keep ticks from getting the drop on you. The scalp is a very common place to find ticks, so protect your head and your brain with a sporty cap.
Keep it bright
Speaking of clothing, make sure you wear lighter colors when out and about. Ticks can be really small, but you’ll have an easier time picking them off of you when they clash against the sunny yellow t-shirt you’re wearing.
Although these shades will get dirtier faster, it’ll be worth it to spot this secret assassin when it’s crawling on your sleeve.
Savor the sunlight
Those bright UV rays may be good for something yet. Ticks hate the sunlight because of how easily dried out they can get.
Ticks tend to stay in the shade where cooler temperatures allow them to move about more freely. Though you should be safe while getting that summer tan, make sure to stay far away from shaded areas if you aren’t wearing protection.
Don’t let your pets make friends
Keep rodents like mice and squirrels out of your yard. Though Fido might make you proud as he wrestles another varmint into submission, ticks can hitchhike from one animal to another. Subsequently your pets can bring ticks into the home.
Always check pets that have been outside during warmer months before they come inside. Use collars such as the popular Bayer Ceresto flea and tick collar to prevent ticks from biting your dog.
You don’t want to invite unwanted guests, so give Fido a good rinsing or comb-through. Here’s a big list of tips on how to prevent and treat ticks on pets.
Avoid thick foliage
Ticks are most likely to latch onto your clothing from a nearby tree or bush, from there they crawl up to find a place to bite. So walking unprotected through woodland areas where you’re constantly brushing up against them is a bad idea.
Stick to well-worn paths and wide open areas to avoid ticks. When camping, make sure you don’t sit on the ground. They can crawl up from there too. Pack a few folding chairs and use camping ground tables and benches when available.
Ticks don’t fall from trees. It’s a myth.
Check yourself and check often
Though the vast desert of clothing layers may seem time-consuming to cross, a tick can get to your skin quicker than you know. The going is slow, but once they get to you, they will chomp down and attach themselves to your skin.
Do a tick check every couple of hours, both on yourself and those with you. Areas such as armpits, waistlines and behind the knees need extra vigilance. If you find any ticks, remove them immediately.
Leave ticks high and dry, wear quick dry clothing
Ticks can’t stand the heat. It’s a wise practice to throw your clothes in the dryer when you get home to zap any clingers-on that may have attached themselves to you.
Even if you don’t see any on your clothing, making doubly sure they’re thoroughly baked will set your mind at ease and prevent the spread of ticks around your home.
Take a shower
You’re tired from a long day hiking, so why not soothe those sore muscles with a relaxing, hot shower?
Ticks that get under clothing but haven’t attached themselves yet can be washed off with a hot rinse. Drowning them in a few suds from a heavily-fragranced body wash wouldn’t hurt either.
Keep an eye out
Ticks are very sneaky, but they’re not entirely invisible. If you spot a tick in the great outdoors, don’t let your neighborly side get the best of you; avoid that tick like it’s the plague because it’s most likely carrying one.
Having the right tick repellent can mean the difference between staying safe and coming home with a new eight-legged friend.
Use a repellent with higher levels of permethrin. It has a slight citrus scent, so you don’t have to worry about compromising reeking like a chemical plant with being protected.
Permethrin will not only keep the ticks away, but if any do happen to get close, it will kill both adult ticks and juveniles. Popular choices are Repel 100 Insect Repellent and Sawyer Products Premium Permethrin spray for gear and clothing.
Wear permethrin-treated clothing
Several outdoors-centric stores such as Cabelas will sell this type of mosquito-repellent clothing. It gives an added layer of protection in the fight against the creepy-crawlies. Used in conjunction with insecticide, ticks will have a tough time getting close to you.
Spray your yard
Using a deterrent to keep ticks out of your yard in the first place can make playtime for your children safe again. You can either spray yourself or get a professional to do it.
Either way, by spraying especially woodsy areas and ornamental plantings you’ll be putting up a sound barrier against an army of ticks and other pests.
The most commonly used products include Talstar Pro multi-use insecticide and Permethrin SFR. Works great to reduce the local mosquito population too.
Treat your yard with Tick Tubes
These contain tick-killing permethrin treated cotton that mice like to steal to line their nests. Mice and other small rodents like chipmunks are key hosts for ticks.
Especially for wooded yards with plenty of shrubs and other foliage, Tick Tubes provide an effective first line of defense.
Treat your yard with granules
Get Ortho Bug B Gon Max Insect Killer for Lawns or another brand to get rid of all kinds of bugs including ticks, ants, spiders, and fleas.
Make the yard less habitable for ticks
Trim tall grass and weeds and rake and remove leaves and clutter to minimize tick habitat. Widen walking paths, trim back tall grass and brush, and make sure to walk in the middle. Treat the sides with tick-killing sprays or granules
Here’s the tough part: what do you do if you find a tick attached to you?
How do you remove it? Ticks are surprisingly stubborn and strong, and once they’ve got a good chunk of your flesh in their tiny, disgusting mouths, they don’t want to let go.
You need to remove the tick, and fast. If the tick isn’t removed within a certain time frame, severe infections can occur, leading to hospital visits and further complications.
5 Tick removal tips
Tick bites are nothing to joke around about. Here’s what you can do if you find a tick attached to your skin:
Get the tweezers
Try and grab the tick as close to the skin as possible. This can be difficult, especially when the tick is very tiny. When removing the tick, attempt to get the whole insect off in one go rather than plucking off only part of it, leaving other parts still attached.
Granted, they’ll come off eventually (the individual parts, that is), but removing the whole tick on the first go is better to prevent infection leaked through teeth and glands that are left behind.
Use a tick removal tool
If you find using tweezers difficult or scary (some folks are afraid they might do it wrong) you can use a special yet simple tick removal tool.
Popular brand names include O’Tom tick remover, Tick Twister, TickEase Tick Remover, and Ticked Off Tick Remover. These tools are commonly used for dogs, cats, and other pets too.
A simple trick to take the fuss out of removal
If you’re having a hard time removing this unwanted parasite, slather a smothering substance such as Vaseline over the tick (chemicals are not a recommended substance for tick removal).
This will suffocate it in a matter of minutes, and you can easily remove it with a pair of tweezers.
Take the subject into custody
When you do get the tick removed, place it in a sealed container (a jar or plastic bag will do just fine as long as it seals properly). This is merely for your own peace of mind.
Some people think they should take the tick to their doctor. The underlying thought is that if the tick has a disease, the doctor will be able to tell you what it is and what course of treatment you should take.
Some local or state health departments do offer tick identification and testing as a community service but this is generally not recommended by the CDC.
- This because if the tick shows to carry a disease this does not necessarily mean you have been infected.
- The other way round, negative test results are no guarantee you have not unknowingly been bitten by another tick.
- Waiting for the test results can delay treatment because you may develop symptoms before the test results are available.
Watch for signs of illness
Being bitten by a tick puts you at risk of contracting whatever disease it happened to be carrying, but you can also contract other diseases as well. This is why it’s important to keep the tick for your doctor’s visit should you happen to capture it.
Depending on the type of tick and if it’s carrying a disease, you may display different symptoms such as fever, chills, rashes and assorted aches and pains. If you see any of these symptoms, get to a healthcare facility immediately.
A lady from Oklahoma who contracted Rocky Mountain spotted fever sought treatment too late, and she ended up having all four limbs amputated. The sooner you are treated, the less you’ll have to deal with later.
Nowadays, mosquitoes aren’t the only annoying parasite you have to worry about when you step out your door.
Keeping you and your family safe from ticks is as simple as following these steps. Enjoying the great outdoors doesn’t have to be difficult; just make sure you’re taking the right precautions, and you will remain healthy and tick-free.