Summer is here - and that means vacations, picnics, swimming, boating, fishing, camping…and daily tick checks.
By now, you’ve likely heard a lot about tick-borne illnesses. The prevalence of these diseases has increased in recent years, and it’s not only Lyme Disease we have to worry about anymore – there are several other illnesses spread by ticks. As with most illnesses, the best medicine is prevention. You can still enjoy your favorite summer activities while protecting yourself from tick-borne disease.
Here are some tips from our Internal Medicine doctors:
- Walk in the center of paths so your legs don’t brush against tall grass, bushes or trees.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants and socks to cover your skin when you are in the woods or tall grass.
- Bathe or shower within two hours of coming indoors to find and wash off crawling ticks.
- Conduct a full-body tick check before going to sleep at night.
- Dry clothes on high heat for an hour to kill any remaining ticks.
- For non-pregnant adults, use tick repellents that contain 20 to 30 percent DEET on exposed skin and products that contain 0.5 percent permethrin on clothing.
- Buy clothing that is pre-treated with permethrin and maintains that protection through several washes.
If you find an embedded tick on yourself or a family member, remove it as soon as possible following these steps:
- Before removing the tick, do not paint it with nail polish or other substances; it is most important to remove it quickly.
- Use tweezers to grasp the tick right against the skin surface.
- Pull with a constant steady pressure until it is removed.
- After the tick is removed, clean the skin with alcohol or soap and water.
- If you think the tick has been embedded for more than 24 hours, call your doctor after you remove it. Your doctor may want to prescribe a single dose of an antibiotic to prevent infection.
- You may want to keep the tick in a small plastic bag in case you need to show it to your doctor; some types of ticks are much less likely to carry disease.
After you remove a tick, watch for symptoms of tick-borne illness which usually begin three to 30 days after the tick bite. They include:
- A red, expanding rash at the site of the tick bite or on other parts of the body
- Flu-like symptoms including fever, fatigue, headache, muscle and joint aches
See your doctor if you develop these symptoms (Even if you have had Lyme disease in the past, you can still contract the infection again and may need treatment for a second infection).