Tick Safety 101

As the summer sun beats down, everyone knows to apply sunscreen and drink plenty of water—but what about parasites? Those nasty little bloodsuckers are out there, waiting to use your body (and your dog's!) to fuel their own. We'll discuss mosquitos and leeches another time; for now, our friends at the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance (TBDA) are spreading the word about one of the season’s biggest, but rarely mentioned, dangers—the tick.

Lyme disease is the fastest-growing infectious disease and the most common tick-borne disease in the country, according to the Center for Disease Control, but there are numerous other diseases that ticks can pass along. There is currently no full-proof diagnostic tool for Lyme disease, causing thousands of people to go misdiagnosed and without appropriate treatment. Many sufferers of tick-borne illnesses are not even aware that they’re victims of these diseases because they simply don’t have the facts. TBDA believes it’s essential to raise awareness about tick prevention.

Here are our Top Ten Tick Prevention Tips to help you avoid falling victim to these disease-carrying menaces.

  1. Purchase tick-repellent clothing, especially clothing treated with permethrin, an insecticide that repels and kills ticks. You may spray your own clothing with permethrin or seek out brands such as Insect Shield, ExOfficio’s BugsAway or ElimiTick, which remain effective for up to 70 washes.
  2. Sport long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and a hat to reduce the amount of skin exposed.
  3. Apply EPA-approved insect repellent to exposed skin.
  4. Stay in the center of woodland trails, and avoid walking along game trails.
  5. Every time you’ve been outside, check for ticks while you are out and as soon as you get back.
  6. Never wait to shower. Bathing as soon as possible will help remove unattached ticks from your body. Bath time is the perfect time to carefully inspect for any unwanted hitchhikers.
  7. Take your clothes off and put them in the dryer at high heat for about 30 minutes to kill any ticks.
  8. Inspect your pets when they come inside from the outdoors, as they may be transporting ticks that they can transfer to you. 
  9. Opt for light-colored clothing to make it easier to spot ticks.
  10. Neatly tuck your shirt into your pants and your pants legs into your socks when possible to provide an extra line of defense.

So get outside and enjoy the rest of the summer—but be safe, and remember these tips to avoid becoming victim to summer’s blood-sucking pest, the tick.

For more information, visit tbdalliance.org and cdc.gov/ticks.

Photos courtesy Centers for Disease Control.