Do You Know How to Do a Tick Check?

by Chris Bjorklund

If you often spend time in forested areas, make tick inspections a habit. Photo: CC0 Creative Commons ©2019

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy long walks and hikes in different parts of the Bay Area. However, there are three things that detract from my enjoyment: poison oak, snakes and ticks. I’ve learned to spot poison oak and can usually avoid it. Snakes have predictable patterns and I’ve only seen a couple of harmless ones in the past few years. Ticks scare me the most because they’re so small and difficult to detect (the bites are painless), and they also may carry Lyme and other diseases.

Besides taking precautions like wearing pants and long sleeves, tucking your pants into your socks, and using tick repellents and treated clothing, one of the best ways to protect yourself is to be conscientious about tick checks after spending time in the woods. Ticks crawl up from the ground and roam around on the body for a while before attaching themselves. They tend to attach to skin inside the belly button and armpits, on the back of the knees, and around and on the head and ears. It’s a great idea to have a friend check your back, too. If you want to make the check-up fun for your children, there are “tick check” songs on YouTube like this one. Make full body inspections a habit.

If you find a tick on your body, use a pointy pair of tweezers to pull it straight up without twisting. Consumer Reports notes that removing it as soon as possible will protect you. They say most ticks won’t transmit Lyme disease right away—you have at least 24 hours and possibly more time before that happens. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 300,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with Lyme disease every year.