If you’re planning to spend a lot of time outdoors this summer, you’ll need to take precautions against ticks. This tip sheet outlines some basic tick safety tips, including what to do if you find one on you.
When spending time outdoors:
- Stick to designated trails and areas whenever possible, and avoid tall grass or brush where ticks tend to live.
- Apply a tick repellent that contains DEET to your skin, clothing and outdoor gear. Be sure to follow the product instructions and check guidelines for child-safe use.
- Wear tick-safe attire, including closed-toed shoes and long pants tucked into your socks. This will create a barrier between you and the ticks.
After returning home from the outdoors:
- Remove all of your clothes and place them in the dryer at high heat for 20 minutes to kill any “hitchhikers.”
- Perform a thorough tick check for each person. When checking yourself, use a mirror to view hard-to-reach areas, such as behind your back and legs.
If you find a tick on you:
- Remove it as soon as possible. Most ticks won’t transmit Lyme disease right away—typically, you have at least 24 hours before that happens. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lays out the following steps for removing 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 the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you’re unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
- After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
- Never crush a tick with your fingers. Dispose of a live tick by putting it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape or flushing it down the toilet.
- Rather than disposing of the tick, consider sending it to a lab for testing so you can determine if it was carrying a disease.
- Schedule an appointment with your physician to get tested for tick-transmitted illnesses.
To learn more about tick safety, read our previous article.