AVOIDING CLOSE ENCOUNTERS WITH TICKS!
By Chris Williams on June 23, 2017.
My kid has already had his first attached tick this year! I always forget exactly how you are supposed to remove a tick, whether you cover it with baby oil and wait for it to back out, or what. Could you please repeat that advice again? L. Y., Saugus, MA
Absolutely! We’re always glad to see people become proactive when it comes to tick protection since it seems we have more ticks and more transmittable tick diseases all the time. Used to be you didn’t really worry much about ticks unless you were camping or hiking in woods. Now we have to worry about picking up ticks right in our own backyards.
THE RIGHT WAY TO REMOVE AN ATTACHED TICK
The main thing to remember when you have an attached tick is to remove it as soon as it’s discovered. The longer that an infected tick remains attached and feeding, the more likely that a disease can be transmitted. Secondly, don’t try to smother it with oil, burn it, or yank it out. You don’t want any tick mouthparts to remain in your skin after removal. Use tweezers with a fine point, hold the tick as close as possible to the skin where the tick’s mouthparts enter and gently pull backward away from the skin. For details about what to do next, check out our blog, The Right Way to Remove an Attached Tick.
REPELLENTS CAN PREVENT TICK ATTACHMENT
Now let’s talk about protection from ticks. There are things you can do to keep ticks from attaching in the first place. Repellents are the obvious first line of protection. Since ticks are not insects, not all insect repellents will work equally well against ticks. A repellent containing the standby DEET is still probably your best choice (see Do Insect Repellents Work Against Ticks?).
Yes, it’s summer and summer is hot, but the more protective clothing you can get your kids to wear in tick areas, the better. Long sleeves, long pants, and socks are their best protection. In fact, in heavy tick areas, tucking pants legs into socks means even less skin area where ticks can attach. There is also a very effective repellent that can be used on clothing (not skin)…permethrin. If you can keep ticks from crawling on your clothes, you can keep them from reaching skin.
MAKE YOUR YARD LESS ATTRACTIVE TO TICKS
Most people don’t realize that conditions on their property can mean more ticks. The life cycle of most ticks involves a period of time living on a small mammal such as a mouse or chipmunk. So if you have a lot of mice living in your yard, maybe because of seed from bird feeders, you could also have more ticks. For the ticks that spread Lyme disease, deer are another host animal. If deer frequently visit your yard, you also may have more ticks.
The more that you clean up areas that provide food and shelter for rodents and deer, and clear out brushy areas where ticks hide, especially along a woods edge, the less inviting your yard becomes to the animals that carry ticks and to the ticks themselves (see Creating a Tick-Free Zone in Your Yard – Advice From the Pros). At Colonial, we have technicians who can advise you on how to rodent-proof your yard to help in the battle against ticks.
Photo Credit : CDC