There are more than 850 identified species of ticks all over the globe and their populations and the number of diseases they transmit increase every year. According to the latest research, the number of annual reports of tick-borne diseases doubled during the 2004-2016 period. Ticks are highly dangerous for humans and animals, but there is a number of safety measures you can take to protect yourself.
Summer is coming and we’ll be spending more time outdoors, which means a higher risk of getting tick bites. Contrary to common belief, we can contact these blood-feeding parasites not only in forests, but also in our gardens and even in cities. It’s important for all of us to know how to protect ourselves from ticks, many of which carry deadly diseases.
1. Choose the right clothes.
When tick season is high, choose pants instead of shorts and skirts and long-sleeved tops instead of T-shirts when walking outside. Covering up will prevent ticks from latching on. Ticks do not jump or fly, they start on the ground and go up, so if you are going to a wooded area, it’s a good idea to wear high boots or, at least, tuck your pants into socks to cover the open areas on your legs. Try to avoid dark colors, as it’s much easier to notice a crawling parasite on a light-colored clothes.
Wearing treated clothes is one of the newest solutions for those who can’t say ‘No’ to picnics in nature during tick season. These clothes are treated with repellent or toxicant products and, as manufacturers say, the effectiveness of this treatment can last through multiple launderings. You can also treat your gear and clothes yourself using products containing permethrin — a product that kills ticks on contact
2. Wash and dry your clothes.
Remember to check your clothes for ticks when you come back indoors. Dry your clothes in a dryer on high heat to kill ticks. If you need to wash your clothes first, use only hot water. Washing in warm or cold water will not kill these parasites.
3. Protect yourself.
One of the ways to make your clothes and personal belongings less attractive for ticks is peppermint essential oil. Peppermint scent keeps ticks, mosquitoes and other insects away. Just spray it on your clothes or rub it onto the open areas of your skin.
If you are planning to spend a lot of time in high-risk areas, take a lint roller with adhesive layers with you. Roll it on your clothes from time to time and it will pick up all the ticks latched on your clothes.
One more thing you should take with you when going to risky areas is special tick repellent.
4. Use repellent sprays.
There is a wide range of skin-applied repellents on the market now. Choose those that contain ingredients like DEET, picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone. These are not toxic and they don’t kill ticks, they just keep them away from the treated area, so don’t forget to treat your clothes with products containing permethrin. You can contact your local center for tick disease control and prevention to find out which tick repellent is most effective in your area.
There are many DIY recipes for tick repellents on the internet, however, it’s better to use industrially manufactured repellents when going to high-risk areas since the effect of these products is research-proven.
5. Examine yourself.
Tick checks are absolutely necessary after returning home from potentially tick-inhabited areas. It’s a good decision to take a shower first, as pouring water can wash off unattached ticks. After your shower stand in front of a full-length mirror and do a thorough tick check of your body. Follow our scheme to examine the spots that ticks especially like.
If you find an unattached tick on your body, take it off with tweezers and isolate it in a sealed bag, a container, or wrap it in tape. If the tick is attached, it needs to be removed as soon as possible. The best decision in this case would be to search for medical help. If there’s no opportunity to quickly find a doctor, follow this procedure to remove the tick yourself. Remember that you should never touch the tick with your fingers.
6. Examine your pets.
Regularly examine your dogs and cats for ticks, especially after they spend time outside. Even if your pets don’t get tick bites, they can carry ticks into your house and put you at risk. Tick bites on pets are hard to notice and signs of tick-borne diseases may not appear for weeks after the bite. Watch your pets and call the vet if you notice any changes in their behavior. If you find a tick on your pet, follow these steps to remove it.
Pets can pick up ticks in your yard or garden, so make sure you are careful to keep ticks out of your house.
7. Keep ticks out of your garden.
Ticks like to hide in damp and shadowy places, so make sure they have nowhere to hide in your garden and keep it clean:
- remove all leaves and branches;
- mow the lawn frequently;
- stack firewood in a dry place;
- remove all trash from the yard;
- create a barrier of gravel between your garden and adjacent wooded areas;
- treat your garden with pesticides.
If applying chemicals is not possible in your garden, try organic products like this DIY garlic spray. All you need for this recipe is garlic cloves, mineral oil, dish soap and some water.
Preventing danger is always better than dealing with tick bites, so don’t forget to share this article to keep your friends informed.