Use Repellents to prevent tick bites
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises you to:
- Use repellents that contain DEET (20 - 30%).
- Always read and follow the instructions on the label.
- Parents should apply repellents, avoiding hands, eyes, and mouth.
- Products containing DEET should not be used on infants.
- Wash off repellent at the end of the day.
- Products that contain permethrin (ex: Repel) should only be used on clothing. You can use these products to treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks, and tents. It remains protective even after several washes.
Ticks can also enter your home after attaching themselves to pets. Talk to your vet about products to prevent tick bites on your pets.
Remember some repellents that work well for mosquitoes may not be effective against ticks.
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Modify activities to prevent tick bites
- Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter. Stay on trails while hiking.
- Wear light clothing, long-sleeved shirts and long pants, since ticks are easier to see on light clothing. Place your white socks over pants legs.
- Perform tick checks on yourself and your children after being outdoors. Have someone check areas you cannot see. Small ticks are hard to notice and prefer underarms, in and around ears, between legs, around the waist, and hair.
- Check your pets for ticks too.
- Ticks can enter homes on clothing then attach themselves to people. We encourage you to throw clothes in a dryer on high heat for 30 minutes to kill any ticks remaining on clothes, knapsacks, stuffed animals, etc.
How to properly remove a tick
- Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible.
- Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick; this can cause mouth parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and the skin will heal.
- After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, iodine, or soap and water.
Avoid Folklore Remedies such as covering the tick with petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. You also do not want to squish the tick.
Here is the reason: the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease (and the other tick borne diseases Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis) lives in the salivary glands of the tick. If you try to suffocate the tick by using petroleum jelly or try to burn or squish it, the stress of such actions will cause the tick to regurgitate (they literally “throw up”) the infected saliva into the blood stream, which increases the risk of contracting a tick born disease.