Amanda Gillio DNP, CRNP, FNP-BC
Summertime has fully arrived and so have the ticks! April through September is when ticks are in their most active state, but it is important to be cautious as tick exposure can occur year-round. Knowing how to protect yourself is very important as tick-borne diseases can lead to serious complications.
BEFORE YOU GO OUTDOORS:
KNOW WHERE TO EXPECT TICKS
Ticks live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas, or even on animals. Spending time outside, walking your dog, camping, gardening, or hunting could bring you in close contact with ticks. Many people get ticks in their own yard or neighborhood.
TREAT CLOTHING AND GEAR WITH PRODUCTS CONTAINING 0.5% PERMETHRIN
Permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing, and camping gear, and remain protective through several washings. Alternatively, you can buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear.
KNOW YOUR INSECT REPELLENT
Be sure to use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents containing DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), Para-Menthane-Diol (PMD), or 2-Undecanone.
ALWAYS FOLLOW PRODUCT INSTRUCTIONS
- Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than two months old.
- Do not use products containing OLE or PMD on children under three years old.
AVOID CONTACT WITH TICKS
Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter and remember to walk in the center of trails.
WHEN YOU RETURN INDOORS:
CHECK YOUR CLOTHING
Ticks may be carried into the house on clothing. Any ticks that are found should be removed. Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for ten minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you return indoors. If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed. If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended. Cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks.
EXAMINE GEAR AND PETS
Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and day-packs.
SHOWER SOON AFTER BEING OUTDOORS
Showering within two hours of returning indoors has been shown to reduce the risk of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases. Showering is an opportunity to perform a tick check and can help wash off unattached ticks.
CHECK YOUR BODY
Conduct a full body check upon return from potentially tick-infested areas, including your own backyard. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body.
Check the following parts of your body and your child’s body for ticks:
- Under the arms
- In and around the ears
- Inside belly button
- Back of the knees
- In and around the hair
- Between the legs
- Around the waist