Straight, No Chaser: Extracting Ticks and Preventing Tick Bites
Springtime is the beginning of the outdoor season for many. Whether you’re camping, hunting, playing paintball, hiking or engaged in other activities in the woods or tall grass, you need to be alert to the presence of pesky mosquitoes and ticks.
This Straight, No Chaser will discuss prevention and removal of ticks. An additional post will discuss tick-borne diseases.
Tick-borne diseases are seen more often between April and September, because people are more inclined to be outdoors during the warmer months. Preventative activities are necessary whenever you’re outdoors.
Try the following preventative measures:
- In general, ticks are found in areas with high grass and in leafy mounds. Avoid these areas, and stay on trails that are well outlined when possible.
- Wear clothing that covers as much of your body as practical.
- Wear clothing that is pretreated for tick control. These products contain permethrin. Protect your pants, boots and socks. Also treat your tent if you are camping.
- If you’re using repellent (which you should), use 20-30% DEET. Apply repellent generously and avoid getting it in the eyes, mouth and hands.
Prevention also includes steps you take once you’re literally out of the woods.
- As soon are you arrive home, bathe and/or shower.
- View (or have someone else view) your body for ticks. Be sure to check the hair and in body crevices, such as under your arms, within the belly button, armpits and the backs of the knees, the front of the elbows, around the waist and groin, and around the ears.
- Once you’ve cared for yourself, check your gear and any pets that accompanied you. Ticks can attach to your pets or other items taken on the retreat, then get on you later. Take the time to look everything over.
- Furthermore, once washing your clothes, tumble them in a dryer set on high heat for an hour. This will kill any remaining ticks.
The simplest way to remove a tick that is attached to you is to use tweezers, which should be part of what you take with you when headed to the woods.
- Grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible.
- Pull upward with steady, even pressure, and do not twist, bend or jerk the tick.
- If you break off the tick’s mouth and leave it in the skin, go back and take out the individual parts with tweezers. If you are unsuccessful, do not dig into the skin. Do the best you can to clean the area; the skin will heal.
- After removing whichever part of the tick you can, use soap and water, alcohol or and iodine scrub to clean the area of the tick bite.
Avoid and ignore folk tales that involve doing anything to the tick other than extracting it. Without going into details, using paint or fire doesn’t help and can make matters worse.
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