The best thing you can do to prevent tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease is to avoid ticks altogether, but depending on the task at hand, sometimes that's not always easy. Here are some great tips for avoiding ticks and staying protected while you're working outside.
Know Where Ticks Live
- Ticks are commonly found near the ground in tall grasses, brush, bushes, leaf debris, and fallen logs.
- Be extra cautious while clearing debris, gathering wood, and working around trees.
- Try to stick to cleared areas and trails rather than walking through tall grasses and fields.
- Wear long pants, shoes, socks, and long sleeves.
- Tuck your pants into tall socks for added protection.
- Wear a hat to keep your head protected and tie back long hair.
- Find ticks on your clothes more easily by wearing white or light colors.
- Wear clothing that has been pre-treated with permethrin, a tick repellent.
Protect Yourself with a Repellent
- Use repellents containing permethrin, DEET, picaridin, or lemon eucalyptus oil.
- Spray exposed skin as well as the inside and outside of your clothing.
- Don't forget to treat your footwear too!
Inspect Yourself for Ticks
- Periodically check yourself for ticks while working outdoors.
- If you find an attached tick, here are the steps the CDC recommends for removal:
- Use a fine-tipped tweezer to grasp the tick as close 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 are 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, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
- Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.
- If you develop a rash or fever within several weeks of removing a tick, see your doctor.
Shower as Soon as Possible
- A shower should wash away any ticks that aren't attached.
- Check carefully for any attached ticks.
- Pay close attention to areas where ticks might hide, including the scalp, armpits, navel, back of knees, and groin.
- Also run your clothes through a hot dryer prior to washing them to kill any hidden ticks.
For more information on protecting yourself from ticks and Lyme disease, check out these resources: