Tickborne diseases are on the rise, particularly in the spring, summer, and early fall when ticks are most active. Between the 7 species of ticks, they carry at least 13 diseases to humans in the United States, including Lyme disease. Checking yourself for ticks and promptly removing them can significantly reduce your risk for infection with a tick-borne disease. When spending time outdoors, it’s important to take precautions for yourself, your family, and your pets before, during, and after your visit.
Steps to Protect Against Ticks
- Avoid areas with high grass and walk in the center of trails when hiking.
- Limit the amount of exposed skin. Wear closed-toed shoes, shin-high socks, and long pants if possible.
- Use repellent that contains 20% or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin.
- Use products that contain permethrin to treat clothing and gear before spending time outdoors.
- Treat dogs for ticks by using tick collars, sprays, shampoos, or monthly “top spot” medications, as dogs are susceptible to tick bites and may bring ticks into your home.
- Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors to wash off and more easily find ticks.
- Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heart for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors.
Removing Ticks From Your Body
- Conduct a full-body tick check using a mirror to view all parts of your body. Ticks are most likely to be found under the arms, around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in hair.
- Use tweezer to grab the tick mouthparts. Squeezing the tick’s body may force infective body fluids into the wound site.
- Pull steadily, not sharply, until the tick mouthparts can be eased out of the skin.
- Clean the site with soap and water after removal.