Ticks: How to Avoid and Remove Ticks

Warmer weather brings pesky bugs out of hibernation. Many bugs are good for environment but there are a few we need to watch for as they can carry disease. One insect we are seeing more and more of are ticks.

Ticks are tiny bugs that feed on blood. They are a common insect that will attach themselves to your dog while they are outdoors but are not picky and can attach themselves to humans as well. The primary types of ticks that carry Lyme disease are the black-legged tick and Western black-legged tick.  Lyme disease is an illness that can cause fatigue, headache, stiff neck, fever, sore muscles and joints, and sometimes a red rash that looks like a bull's eye. If bitten by a tick with this type of bacteria it is imortant to be treated right away. If you don't get treated, you can have serious problems with your joints, nervous system and/or heart. There are numerous types of ticks and not all carry diseases but it is important to remove them as soon as you find them.

Where to look for ticks after being outside:

How to protect yourself from ticks:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Very light-weight, light-colored clothes can be very cool and they keep most of your skin protected.
  • Wear light-colored clothes. Lighter colors make it easier to see insects while they are still on the outside of your clothes.
  • Tuck pants into socks. This keeps ticks and other crawlies from getting inside your pants legs.
  • Wear a hat for both sun protection and keeping insects out of your hair.
  • Wear an insect screen hat, jacket, or full body suit. This is especially important when walking through tall grass where ticks and other insects like to live.
  • After your hike, take a shower and check all over your body for ticks.
  • Avoid brushy areas and tall grass. Try to walk in the middle of the trail and avoid hanging branches.
  • Sunny, dry areas can still have ticks, but fewer than shady, damp areas.
  • Use DEET-based insect repellents on exposed skin.

 

How to remove ticks:

  • Wipe the wound area with an alcohol wipe.
  • Grasp the tick with a sharp pointed tweezers right down where it is entering your skin.
  • Pull it straight away from your skin with a slow, steady pressure. Don't yank it; don't twist it; don't rock it back and forth.
  • Even removing the tick as efficiently as possible may leave some of its mouthparts in your skin. If this happens, pinch up a fold of skin that contains the bite area and carefully scrape the skin containing the mouth parts with a scalpel or razor blade. Or, use a sterilized needle to break the skin and remove the mouth.
  • It's very important to thoroughly clean the wound with antiseptic.
  • If you're concerned with the possibility of Lyme Disease, keep the tick in a film canister or between a piece of folded tape and take it to a public health lab for inspection.

Remember ticks can be found anywhere, even your own backyard, so it is important to be aware of the above tips but don't let that stop you from going out and enjoying the great outdoors.

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