The One Thing You Need to Do to Protect Yourself From Ticks
Destroy these disease-carrying parasites before they have a chance to make you sick by using this post-workout tick checklist.
Selene Yeager |
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Destroy these disease-carrying parasites before they have a chance to make you sick by using this post-workout tick checklist. – By Selene Yeager
Ticks can create big health problems for nature lovers. The best way to prevent Lyme disease and other awful tick-borne diseases: Keep the bloodsuckers from sinking their insect fangs into your vulnerable flesh in the first place.That means wearing insect repellent avoiding contact with bushy areas where ticks hang out and latch onto passersby; and most importantly, performing a thorough tick check to catch any of the wretched plague-beasts that may have hitched a ride on you before they find a nice place to feed.“Ticks may crawl around [generally up from your lower extremities] for an hour before inserting their barbed mouthpart and secreting the cement that holds them in place as they feed for several hours,” says Lee Townsend, PhD, an entomologist with the University of Kentucky Extension.It’s best to find them early, before they create a firm attachment, because they usually transfer their diseases (if they’re infected) near the end of their feeding period.
We asked Townsend and Amanda Roome, a tick researcher and doctoral student at Binghamton University, for their best preventative tick-check tips.
Check for ticks every hour
You can wait till you’re done with your activity if you’ll only be out for an hour or so. Any longer—especially if you’re deep in the woods and brushing against vegetation—and you should scan for them every hour or so, says Townsend.
Shed your clothes
When you return home, leave your gear outside a while, preferably out in the sun, advises Roome.
“Once your gear is off, the thermal and carbon dioxide signature (which tells the tick there’s a mammal that can provide a meal!) is gone, and the tick will leave,” she says.
Then, put your clothing in the dryer on high for at least 30 minutes, she adds: Ticks need moisture to survive, so the dryer will kill them.
“Take a long, hot shower, which will hopefully wash off any ticks that may be crawling around on you,” says Roome. Being in the shower will also give you a better chance of any that might still be on your skin.
Double-check ticks’ hangouts
Ticks prefer dark, moist areas, so be sure to check their most common attachment sites carefully. That includes all skin folds—underarms, groin area, and behind the knees—as well as where clothing is tight, such as along the waist. Also check in your hair along the nape of your neck and on your scalp.
“Use a mirror after you shower to check your back and areas you can’t see well,” says Roome.
Go ahead and nitpick
Having thick hair can make it hard to check your scalp thoroughly. If you’ve been in an area where tick encounters are likely, enlist a friend to check your scalp or run a fine-toothed nit comb through your hair, particularly around the nape of your neck and behind your ears.
If you find one, take these steps to remove the tick safely.