Lyme disease is serious business, with an estimated 300,000 infections every single year. As outdoor adventurers, we’re most at risk by partaking in hiking, camping, and playing in the outdoors. We’re in no way suggesting you limit this, but we do offer some sound advice to give yourself the best chance of avoiding a tick bite and contracting the nasty Lyme disease.
Lyme disease can start off by appearing like a rash, however, can soon become far more serious, affecting the nervous system, causing heart problems, and even affecting the spinal cord.
As we get closer to the warmer summer months, tick bites become more prevalent. This is in part due to the fact we spend a lot more time outdoors, but also because insects thrive in mild and humid weather.
Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria carried by ticks. In addition to contracting Lyme disease, by suffering a tick bite, you are also at risk of other diseases such as babesiosis (similar to malaria), anaplasmosis (similar to the flu), and the Heartland virus infection.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take in order to prevent tick bites from occurring, aside from simply avoiding their natural habitat.
The first port of call for most people when it comes to warding off insects is investing in good insect repellent. A repellent, like DEET or permethrin, will give you the best chance of keeping these pesky bugs away from you. Some repellents can be used effectively on both skin and clothing, so read the instructions in order to determine how best to use the product.
Cover Your Skin
One of the most effective ways to fend ticks off is to have less exposed skin. This means wearing long pants, tucking them into your socks, wearing long-sleeved tops, and donning a hat.
Stick to Light Colors
Yes, insects tend to get attracted to whites and bright colors, however, by wearing these types of shades, you will be able to easily identify if there is a tick crawling over you. With dark colors, it becomes near-impossible to spot sneaky ticks lurking on your clothing. Mostly, ticks are dark-colored, so they should stand out on contrasting clothing.
The Tick Check
As soon as you come back from your adventure, perform the tick check on yourself and any children. Ticks can get into all sorts of places on your body, so a thorough search is required. Here’s where to look:
- In and around ears
- Behind your knees
- Belly button
- Head and hair
- Between legs
How to Remove a Tick
If you noticed that you have a tick gripping onto you, the extraction process can be a little fiddly. Grab a pair of tweezers as soon as you spot the tick on you and grab the tick right down where it is clinging onto you. Lift it straight and steadily from your body, without yanking it and then clean the wound.
If the tick has been on your for less than 24 hours, the chances of you contracting Lyme disease is very slim. If you are at all concerned or start to experience any flu-like symptoms or rashes, it is worth taking the tick to get tested.