Life moves outdoors in the summer. We go for hikes, picnic in the grass and run around with the family youngins’ and pets. It’s one of the best parts of the warmer months; a reward for surviving that Jonas-induced cabin fever. But life on the outside means we have to beware of ticks. The little buggers can cause some major problems like tick paralysis, Lyme’s Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. That doesn’t mean you should take your lawn chair and go home to your Netflix queue. I got Dr. Joe Licata, a practicing pediatrician with Global Pediatrics and inventor of Tickitaway, to share pro tick prevention and removal tips.
Give Your Lawn a Mani
Ticks tend to quest in high grass and weeds, so Licata recommends cutting the grass regularly. Clear out clutter like leaves, twigs and branches that make it easy to get close to where people are sitting or playing, and have a mulch or gravel perimeter around the house. “It helps minimize the tick’s attraction to the area,” Licata said.
Dress (Not to) Impress
If you’re hiking, hunting or going into an area with high grass, clothing can provide an important barrier for tick prevention. Tuck your shirt in and socks into long pants. “This is kind of hard to do in the summer when it’s sweltering out but if you’re going to be in a heavily infested area it’s probably not wise to wear open-toed shoes and shorts,” Licata advised. Wear light colors so you can see ticks climb on you and brush them off, and spray on a deet or permethrin spray to repel ticks and kill them on contact.
When hiking, be sure to walk in the center of the trail rather than the sides where there are more ticks.
Once you get home, really look at your body and your family’s bodies (furry friends included). Ticks tend to gravitate towards creases and folds in skin, behind ears, in hair, under arms and in the groin area. Take a shower and then check again in the morning. “You might have missed something and notice it better in the morning because of irritation,” Licata said. Be sure to put clothes in the wash ASAP so you don’t bring ticks into the home. A warm wash and tumble dry should do the trick.
If You’ve Been Bit
Listen, it happens. If you notice in the first 24-48 hours, you should be fine with quick and proper management. “Proper management of the bite is your last chance to prevent illness,” Licata said. You need to remove the tick without crushing, irritating or stimulating it in any way. Think of it like a little eye-dropper. It has ingredients in there you don’t want. You need to remove that eye-dropper without squeezing it.” The CDC recommends taking a very fine tweezer and grabbing the tick by the head.