While swatting at mosquitoes and trying not to scratch chigger bites, I’m reminded we also need to be checking for ticks. Tick checks were part of our daily routine when I was growing up – just how life is on the farm or if you like to fish and hunt, garden or just enjoy being outside.
If you’ve been outdoors, make sure you check the entire family (and your pets) for ticks. It isn’t hard to do and it should be routine.
Now, let’s get after those ticks!
Dress for Ticks & Wear an Insect Repellent: If you are heading out into potentially tick-infested areas, make sure you prepare! There’s no need to worry about making a fashion statement when tick bite prevention is important. Wear light colored clothing – ticks are easier to see. Wear long pants, sturdy shoes and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck the bottom of your pants into white socks can make it easier to see ticks and this will help keep ticks from crawling up your pants. Now of course, it isn’t always desirable to wear so much clothing on a hot, summer day, but if you are working outdoors or heading out to go fishing it makes sense to protect yourself.
Spray your clothing with an Insect Repellent containing DEET. Be sure to read all label directions especially if you want to use a repellent on a young child – take all precautions. For information on using insect repellents on young children, visit The American Academy of Pediatrics Web page on Insect Repellents or contact your physician. (Note: spraying your clothing with DEET will also give you some protection from chigger bites and mosquitoes).
Once you’ve come indoors:
Check your clothing: Ticks can grab or crawl onto our clothing and be carried into the house. If you find a tick, remove it and kill it (we just used pliers to crush them or a stone). Immediately wash your clothing. Running clothes through a dryer set on high heat for at least an hour effectively kills ticks.
Shower: Showering within two hours of coming indoors has been shown to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease. Showering may also help wash off any unattached ticks. While you are in the shower, this is a perfect time to give yourself a thorough tick check.
Body check: Give yourself a full body check after you return from potentially tick-infested areas, which might even include your own backyard. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view your body. Take extra care to check these parts of your body and your child’s body for ticks:
- Under the arms
- In and around the ears
- Inside belly button area
- In and around the hair and scalp
- Between the legs
- Around the waist
If you find an attached tick: Remove the attached tick as soon as you notice it by grasping with tweezers. Get as close to the skin as possible and pull it straight out.
After a tick bite: Watch for signs of illness such as rash or fever in the days and weeks following a tick bite. Contact your health care provider if you experience any symptoms or are concerned about the appearance of a tick bite. Your risk of tick-borne illness depends on many factors including where you live, the type of tick that bit you, and how long the tick was attached.
Pets: Don’t forget to routinely check your pets for ticks. Check carefully around a pet’s ears, face, neck, back and under collars. Your veterinarian can give you guidance on products available to prevent ticks on your pet.
For more information on ticks, visit http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest or contact your local extension office.
Have a great day!!
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Sources: Center for Disease Control “Stop Ticks” and Nebraska Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases