Don't let ticks keep you from enjoying the great outdoors. Fortunately, there are several tactics you and your family can use to prevent tick bites and reduce the risk of tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease.
- Use a DEET or permethrin-based insect repellent when outdoors. Repellents containing DEET will repel ticks several hours and are safe for use on skin and clothing if you follow label directions and precautions. Permethrin products such as Permanone and Duranon will kill ticks on contact for several days when used to treat clothing, shoes, tents, sleeping bags and chairs, but these products never should be used on the skin. Once again, follow label directions.
- When in areas likely to harbor ticks, wear long pants with the cuffs tucked in your socks to prevent ticks from crawling up inside your pant legs. Where ticks are abundant, you might even want to wrap some duct tape around your ankles, over the top of your socks. Keep your shirt tucked into your waistband, too. And wear light-colored clothing that makes it easier to see ticks crawling on you.
- When possible, walk in the center of trails and avoid brushing against vegetation or traipsing through leaf litter.
After You Get Home
- Inspect yourself and your children for ticks after trips outdoors, even in your own yard. Check your pets, too. Use a mirror to view all parts of your body and remove any tick you find. Pay special attention to the armpits, groin, waist, ears, belly button, backs of knees and hair on the scalp.
- Bathe or shower as soon as you come indoors, preferably within two hours, to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
- Inspect your gear and pets, as ticks can ride into the home on clothing and man's best friend before attaching to a person later.
- Throw your clothes in the dryer on high heat for about an hour to kill remaining ticks.
Also Read: How to Remove a Tick Embedded in the Skin
The American Mosquito Control Association offers these rules to follow when using insect repellents containing DEET:
- Use repellent sparingly; one application will last approximately 4 to 6 hours. Saturation does not increase efficacy.
- Keep repellents away from eyes, nostrils and lips; do not inhale or ingest repellents or get them into the eyes.
- Avoid applying high-concentration (>30 percent DEET) products to the skin, particularly of children.
- Avoid applying repellents to portions of children's hands that are likely to have contact with eyes or mouth.
- Pregnant and nursing women should minimize use of repellents.
- Never use repellents on wounds or irritated skin.
- Wash repellent-treated skin after coming indoors.
- If a suspected reaction to insect repellents occurs, wash treated skin, and call a physician. Take the repellent container to the physician.