During the summer months, everyone loves enjoying the great outdoors. Unfortunately, Mother Nature contains a number of sneaky pests that cause serious problems when they aren’t taken seriously.
One of the biggest offenders in this category is the tick, which can be found all over the world. Tick bites are commonly painful and irritating, but sometimes ticks carry Lyme disease. The CDC believes that more than 300,000 people contract Lyme disease every year, which can cause serious health problems throughout the body if left untreated.
If you want to keep your active outdoor lifestyle going this year without having to worry about ticks, here are 5 great tips for keeping yourself safe from tick bites.
1. Avoid Tick-Heavy Areas
Whether you’re going for a walk through the park, gardening in your backyard, or hiking a densely-forested trail, stay mindful of ticks at all times. Ticks love shady, moist areas like high grass and heavy foliage. When you’re outside in nature, keep to well-maintained trails as much as possible and avoid venturing too far off the beaten path.
If you do have to spend time in high grass or heavy brush, be sure to wear long sleeves and pants. Your clothing should cover as much of your skin as possible to make it difficult for ticks to find a good spot to latch onto.
2. Check Yourself Thoroughly for Ticks
Any clothing you wore while exploring the great outdoors can secretly harbor multiple ticks. That’s why it’s critical to remove it promptly when you return inside and then examine every part of your body.
Ticks embed themselves in your skin and often leave an inflamed, red spot on the skin. The most important places to look include your hairline, armpits, belly button, groin, back of neck, ears, and behind your knees.
Once you’re finished, it’s time to take a shower or bath ASAP. Most of the time, hot water and soap will wash ticks off of your body and prevent them from doing any serious damage.
3. Make Sure Your Pets are Tick-Free
Just because you know you don’t have any ticks on you doesn’t mean you’re off the hook when it comes to constant vigilance against tick bites. Pets are incredibly prone to tick bites, and owners often find ticks long after their furry friends have been bitten.
Sometimes, though, pets are simply transporters of ticks which can then spread out into your home. When you’re curled up on the couch with your puppy after a long day spent working in the yard, ticks can move onto you and find a good spot to settle down in your skin.
Consider investing in tick prevention medications or a flea and tick collar for both cats and dogs that go outside regularly. Be sure to check any pet that has spent time outside for ticks when they come back indoors – especially if they have thick fur. They’ll probably enjoy the process since you’re basically just petting them all over!
4. Treat Yourself and Your Property for Ticks
When it comes to treating and preventing ticks, remember that they are teeny-tiny and hard to spot in the wild. This means you’ll need to protect yourself with tick repellants – particularly those containing 20 percent or higher DEET – to keep them away.
You can also discourage ticks from living in your property with a few simple steps, including:
- Keeping your yard clear of tall grass, weeds, and dead leaves.
- Creating a barrier between your yard and nearby woods or brush by laying gravel or wood chips.
- Storing your outdoor furniture, tools, and playground equipment in the sun and away from trees/brush.
- Spraying neighborhood-approved pesticides inside and around the perimeter of your property.
5. Remove Ticks Safely and Carefully
The best way to remove a tick once it’s bitten you or your pet is with a pair of tweezers. Push the tweezers as close to the skin as possible and pull straight back to avoid leaving any part of the tick in your skin. Monitor the spot where the tick bit you, keeping an eye out for tell-tale signs of Lyme disease like a ring-like inflammation.
If you have been bitten by a tick and believe you may have Lyme disease, it’s important to get medical advice as soon as possible. You can call or visit your physician. Telemedicine is also a great option here – a telemedicine provider such as Teledoc can diagnose tick bites and prescribe treatment if necessary via a phone or video visit.
24/7 Telemedicine access is included with the Alliance Direct Benefits Value Plan. Members and their dependents have 24/7 access to board certified physicians from anywhere you have phone or internet access. And Alliance members have no copays or consultation fees!
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