May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Here are 20 tips to prevent tick bites.
May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 500,000 people will contract Lyme disease this year, from just a single tick bite.
And currently there are over 2 million people in the U.S. suffering from chronic illness associated with Lyme disease.
Symptoms of the disease include brain fog, extreme fatigue, and joint pain. Read more about symptoms here.
Here are some tips to help you prevent tick bites:
Preventing tick bites on people
Before you go outdoors
1. Know where to expect ticks. Ticks live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas, or even on animals. Spending time outside walking your dog, camping, gardening, or hunting could bring you in close contact with ticks. Many people get ticks in their own yard or neighborhood.
2. Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin. Permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing and camping gear and remain protective through several washings. Alternatively, you can buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear.
3. Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone. Find the product that best suits your needs here. Always follow product instructions. Do not use products containing OLE or PMD on children under 3 years old.
4. Avoid contact with ticks by avoiding wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter. Walk in the center of trails.
After you come indoors
5. Check your clothing for ticks. Ticks may be carried into the house on clothing. Any ticks that are found should be removed. Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed. If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended. Cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks.
6. Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and daypacks.
7. Shower soon after being outdoors. Showering within two hours of coming indoors has been shown to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease and may be effective in reducing the risk of other tickborne diseases. Showering may help wash off unattached ticks and it is a good opportunity to do a tick check.
8. Check your body for ticks after being outdoors. Conduct a full body check upon return from potentially tick-infested areas, including your own backyard. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body. Check these parts of your body and your child’s body for ticks:
Under the arms
In and around the ears
Inside belly button
Back of the knees
In and around the hair
Between the legs
Around the waist
If you find a tick attached to your skin, do you know how to remove it? Here are 6 steps from the CDC.
Preventing ticks on your pets
9. Dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and tickborne diseases. Vaccines are not available for most of the tickborne diseases that dogs can get, and they don’t keep the dogs from bringing ticks into your home. For these reasons, it’s important to use a tick preventive product on your dog.
10. Signs of tickborne disease may not appear for 7-21 days or longer after a tick bite, so watch your dog closely for changes in behavior or appetite if you suspect that your pet has been bitten by a tick.
11. Talk to your veterinarian about the best tick prevention products for your dog, and tickborne diseases in your area. NOTE: Cats are extremely sensitive to a variety of chemicals. Do not apply any tick prevention products to your cats without first asking your veterinarian.
12. Check your pets for ticks daily, especially after they spend time outdoors. If you find a tick on your pet, remove it right away.
Preventing ticks in the yard
13. You can make your yard less attractive to ticks depending on how you landscape. Clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the edge of lawns.
14. Place a three-foot wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas and around patios and play equipment. This will restrict tick migration into recreational areas.
15. Mow the lawn frequently and keep leaves raked.
16. Stack wood neatly and in a dry area (discourages rodents that ticks feed on).
17. Keep playground equipment, decks, and patios away from yard edges and trees and place them in a sunny location, if possible.
18. Remove any old furniture, mattresses, or trash from the yard that may give ticks a place to hide.
19. Apply pesticides outdoors to control ticks. However, you should not rely on spraying to reduce your risk of infection.
20. Consider using a professional pesticide company to apply pesticides at your home.