Prevention and awareness about ticks and Lyme disease is key and not discussed enough. Tick bites are insidious because you might not feel yourself being bitten due to a secretion the ticks release – this means you could have a tick latched on to you for hours before noticing! This past week on the Heal Podcast, we had the tick expert and creator of the tick remover, TickEase, Dan “The Tick Man” Wolff. We talked about tick behavior patterns and prevention tips to raise awareness and help people not get bitten. Here are some prevention tips you can apply today and better protect yourself, your family, and pets.
Proper Clothing and Shoes
When going outside, especially in a woodland forest-type area, make sure you are wearing clothing articles that can easily be tucked in and will stay in place. Examples are long-sleeved shirts tucked into long pants with a belt, socks covering the pant leg opening, and tall shoes that will not expose your ankles. You can spray clothing with permethrin to further repel ticks from you. You should put any clothing you take off after being in a tick-prone area in the dryer for around 10 minutes, and the heat should kill any that may have gotten on your clothes. White clothes are preferred so you can see the ticks.
Thoroughly Check Yourself and Your Pets
Post hiking or being outside, make sure to go through each member of your family (yes, that includes pets) to ensure no one has a tick on them. Time is of the essence when it comes to tick bites, so going through the labor of checking. Ticks love dark and warm places so go through all the possible areas on your body, such as around the waistband, back of the knee, hair, private parts, armpits, and lower back. When doing these checks, do not forget your pets since they are BIG carriers and their proximity and exposure to the ground make them prime tick-bite candidates. Do not have your dogs sleep in bed with you!
Remove Tick Habitats
Preventing a tick bite starts from making sure your backyard or home does not contribute to the tick’s habitat and spurring more to reside close to you. They thrive on leaves and shrubbery, so during the springtime and fall time, when leaves tend to stick around on the ground, rake them up and remove potential breeding grounds. You can also spray your yard with tick repellant and killing spray – a common one Dan recommends is bifenthrin. Spraying needs to be done several times a year and make sure you hire a company that really knows what they are doing not just your weekly gardener.
If You Are Bitten Proper Removal Is Necessary
If you or a loved one happens to be bitten, removing the tick is the number one priority. The faster a tick is removed from the skin, the faster it can be sent to a lab and analyzed to make sure it is bacteria and disease-free. However, removing a tick has to be done properly otherwise, you risk severing the tick and part of it being left on your skin. Burning a tick off is a popular method that Dan Wolff has fought to dispel because of the likelihood you burn yourself and destroy the tick. Tweezers are the safest way to remove the entirety of the tick from your body – the Tick Ease makes it even easier by having two sides to use for removal. One end is a fine-point tweezer that can grab any size tick down to the nymph size, and the other end is pronged and made to easily lift an engorged tick without tearing.
You can get your tick remover HERE. The website also has a wealth of resources and information about ticks, how to remove them and what to d if you are bitten.
Taking the time for prevention may be a pain but it is worth the time not to get Lyme. Please share this with anyone you know that spends time outdoors. Education is key.