The best way to avoid long-term consequences of Lyme and tick-borne illnesses is to prevent tick bites altogether. Use the following tips to minimize your exposure to disease-carrying ticks:
- Avoid tick-infested areas when possible. Stay in the center of trails, avoiding contact with overhanging grass and brush, while walking in the woods. Trails are less attractive areas for ticks to live than dense underbrush.
- Wear light colored clothing, long sleeves and pants, and tuck pants into socks. Wear a hat and tie back long hair to make it harder for ticks to attach to your scalp.
- When walking or working in the woods for an extended period, use duct tape wrapped inside out around the ankles to trap ticks attempting to crawl up your legs.
- Wear EPA-approved repellants appropriate for adult skin or children. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application carefully; some repellants are designed for application to clothes and equipment only.
- When coming in from outside activities where ticks may exist, put clothes in the dryer set on high heat for at least an hour. Ticks cannot survive the dry heat. They can survive exposure to hot water, so skip the washing machine and expose the clothing to the high heat of the dryer first.
- After spending time outdoors where you might have been exposed to ticks, make sure you get undressed in a dry bathtub so you can spot ticks that fall off clothing. Do a thorough tick check upon returning inside and for several days following exposure.
- Immediately shower using a washcloth to knock off any unattached ticks and DO A ROUTINE TICK CHECK on yourself and children.
- Check dark, moist areas, hair and scalp, behind ears and knees, elbows, underarms, skin folds and the groin area.
- Check bedding for several days following exposure for ticks that drop off.
Though it may take time to institute tick checks into your family routine, over time it can become as simple as daily tooth brushing.
- Daily full-body tick checks of all family members are your first and most important prevention against Lyme and tick-borne diseases.
- If you are diligent about checking for ticks, there is no need to limit or abandon your usual outdoor activities.
- Other possible tick-borne co-infections found in our area include bartonella, babesiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, ehrlichiosis, and tularemia.
- Young children have a higher incidence of Lyme disease than adults due to more outdoor activities.
- If you have ever had Lyme disease, you are not immune and may contract the disease again upon re-exposure.
Taken from the website of: National Capital Lyme Disease Association