The Ins and Outs of Tick Bites

How to deal with pesky ticks this summer

(RxWiki News) With summer underway, people are spending more time outside. That means people are spending more time near ticks that can transmit serious diseases.

Although the specific diseases vary by region, diseases spread by ticks can be found throughout the entire continental United States. Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease. It is found in the upper Midwest and Northeastern US.

Regardless of where you live, you need to know how to protect yourself from tick bites that can spread Lyme disease and other illnesses.

Tick Repellent

Wearing a tick repellent while outside is a key component of prevention. Follow these steps for proper application:

  • Read the label to determine how much you need to apply.
  • Use only on exposed skin or clothing and do not apply under clothes.
  • Avoid the eyes and mouth.
  • Use only small amounts around the ears.
  • Avoid applying to damaged skin.
  • Put sunscreen on first, if needed, and repellent second.
  • Do not breathe in spray products.
  • Do not use around food and drinks or pets.
  • Keep out of children’s reach.
  • Wash product off your skin and clothes when you return indoors.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a useful tool for finding a repellent based on your needs.

Other Measures

In addition to repellent, there are several other recommended measures to avoid tick bites:

  • Wear long sleeves and pants. Tuck your pants into your socks.
  • Check for ticks after being outdoors. Make sure to check under the arms, around the ears, around the waist and belly button, back of the knees, in and around the hair and between the legs.  
  • Check your pets for ticks.
  • Walk in the center of trails and avoid tall grass and brush.
  • Shower soon after returning indoors (at least within two hours).
  • Dry clothes on high heat for 10 minutes when you return. This is because ticks can stick to your clothes. 
    • If your clothes need to be washed first, then wash them in hot water. 

What to Do When You Find a Tick

Should you find a tick on your skin, the goal is to remove it as soon as possible. Follow these tips for safe tick removal:

  • Use fine-tipped tweezers to firmly hold the tick as close to the skin as possible.
  • Pull straight up without twisting, jerking or crushing the tick.
  • If mouth-parts remain, let the skin heal. The parts will be expelled on their own. Avoid causing excessive skin damage.
  • Clean the area with soap and water or rubbing alcohol after tick removal.
  • Discard the tick by placing it in alcohol, sealing it in a bag, wrapping it in tape or flushing it down the toilet.

If you follow these tips for preventing and handling tick bites, your chance of contracting a disease such as Lyme disease may decrease.

Lyme disease signs and symptoms may include flu-like symptoms or a rash resembling a bullseye. If you experience any of the symptoms of Lyme disease, see your health care provider right away.