June 15, 2015
Found this handy little list of “5 Ways to Protect From Tick Bites” on Consumer Reports. Solid advice here worth sharing.
- Spray on repellent
To avoid a tick bite, use an effective repellent. Consumer Reports recently tested 15 insect sprays and found several to recommend that are safer to use and work for several hours.Apply to exposed skin—never under clothing. Use just enough to cover since heavy doses don’t work better. And don’t let young children apply. Instead, put it on your own hands, then rub it on kids, avoiding their hands, eyes, and mouth. Wash off repellents before you go to bed.
- Wear the right clothes
When walking through wooded or grassy areas, wear light-colored clothes because that makes it easier to spot ticks. Wear long sleeves if possible and long pants, socks, and boots or closed-toe shoes. Tuck your hair into a hat, your shirt into your pants, and your pants into your socks. For extra protection, toss your clothes into a dryer on high heat to kill ticks that might be attached.
- Inspect your skin
Back inside, shower using a wash cloth as soon as possible (preferably within two hours) to remove any unattached ticks, which often remain on your skin for hours before attaching themselves. Search carefully, since deer ticks are no bigger than the head of a pin.
Check your body, including your armpits and groin, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and in your hair. Use tweezers to gently remove any attached ticks. (Remove the whole body, including the head.) Ticks have to be attached for at least 36 hours to transmit Lyme disease.
- Keep your grass short
Ticks like tall grass and lots of shade. So keep your lawn mowed (read our lawn mower buying guide), remove leaves and other debris, and try to let as much sun into your yard as possible. Consider putting up a fence around your property to keep out deer and other large animals that can carry ticks.
- Check your pets
Deer ticks that crawl aboard your dog or cat can attach to you after you touch your pet. So inspect pets after they’ve been outside, and remove any ticks you find with tweezers. “Try not to puncture it, because infected material can come out of the damaged tick,” says Lars Eisen, Ph.D., research entomologist for the CDC. “And don’t handle the tick with your bare fingers.” Dispose of a tick by submerging it in rubbing alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet.
The good news is that if you lose a tick while removing it with tweezers, it likely will be too damaged to bite again, Eisen says. Deer ticks feed only once in each life stage (larva, nymph and adult).