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Ticks: How to Avoid and Treat These Pesky Little Things

Ticks carry some truly unpleasant diseases, so your best bet is to learn how to avoid them and what to do if you’ve already found one on your body.

  

Ticks are awful. If they serve some higher purpose in the ecosystem, it seems no one has figured it out yet. Ticks transmit Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, ehrlichiosis, and tick-borne relapsing fever among several other diseases, so it's very important to practice tick safety.

The best way to avoid the risk of a tick-borne disease would be to never leave the house and have all your groceries delivered, enroll your kids in an online school, and move to Arizona. But since that's not an option, here are a few tick truths to teach you how to avoid them:

Ticks catch a ride

on hosts through something called questing—the behavior of hanging out on a tall blade of grass or a plant stem and extending the front legs. Once a host walks by, a tick will smell the air and then latch on to a host as it brushes past.

Related: Snakes Are Out Earlier This Year: Here Are 8 Things you Should Know

Ticks love the shade

and avoid the sun because it will dry them out and kill them, so sticking to sunny places is a good way to reduce the risk of tick exposure.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC), recommends avoiding, “…wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter” and to keep to the center of trails. That’s not enough though: You’ll want to make sure to treat your clothing with *permethrin, not just DEET. You can also send your clothing to be professionally treated so the permethrin will last through many washings.

When you get home

from the outdoors, immediately put all of your clothing and gear into the dryer and allow it to spin for at least ten minutes so the heat kills any ticks that may be stuck to your clothing. Take a shower and inspect every inch of your body—from scalp to feet—for any ticks that may have latched on.

If the worst case

scenario occurs and you find a tick embedded in your skin, take pointy tweezers and grip the tick near its head and pull upwards in a slow, steady motion. Watch this video now so you know what to do if a tick ever bites you. If you’re worried about the type of tick that has bitten you, you can submit a photo to Tick Encounter, and they’ll help you identify the tick. (Please consult with your physician or urgent care facility if you feel there is risk of disease.)

To tick-proof

your backyard, line the perimeter of your yard with wood chips; ticks don’t like the drying effect of wood and will not cross the perimeter. It’s also very important to check your pets for any tick bites, because they can be carriers for ticks and contract diseases as well. The easiest way to prevent your pet from ticks is to choose a monthly pill or a spray that will keep your pet safe. 

Related: Five Tips For Planning a Safe Hike

Tick-transmitted

diseases can be deadly, so even though these precautionary measures may seem like a hassle, they’re vital to keeping you and your family safe. Do research and take precautions before hitting the great outdoors.

Be sure to check out other healthy living articles.

 

 

SelectHealth may link to other websites for your convenience. SelectHealth does not expressly or implicitly recommend or endorse the views, opinions, specific services, or products referenced at other websites linked to the SelectHealth site, unless explicitly stated.

The content presented here is for your information only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, and it should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.

*May cause skin sensitivity

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Post Author

Jennifer Diffley
Jennifer Diffley is a SLC resident. She is a senior copywriter and has her MFA in creative writing from NYU. Jennifer is committed to health, but has an unhealthy fascination with outrageous shoes.