Protection from Tickborne Diseases
Howard Linzer, MD
As we move into the warmer summer months, we face the increased threat of ticks and the diseases they carry. Ticks live in grassy or wooded areas and are found on wild animals and pets. As we spend more time outdoors, summertime activities bring us into closer contact with ticks, increasing our chances of getting bit. It’s smart to use proper safety precautions to reduce your chance of tick bites and related illness.
How to prevent tick bites
- Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
- Walk in the center of trails.
- Treat your clothing and backpacks with permethrin before spending prolonged time outdoors. Be sure to follow manufacturer product instructions.
- Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old.
- Do not use products containing OLE or PMD on children under 3 years old.
- Tuck your pants into your socks or boots, as this will limit the ability of ticks to move up your leg.
- Wear long sleeves and hats when possible.
- Perform daily tick checks, especially when you return from prolonged outdoor activity. Be sure to check these parts of your body and your child’s body for ticks:
- Under the arms
- In and around the ears
- Inside the belly button
- Back of the knees
- In and around the hair
- Between the legs
- Around the waist
- Shower after returning from the outdoors.
- Check your clothing for ticks. Wash your clothes in hot water — cold and medium temperatures will not kill ticks.
- Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for ten minutes to kill ticks.
What to do if you have a tick bite
If you see a tick on your body, it should be removed immediately. Additionally, if you are feeling ill, or have developed a fever, headache, stiff neck, fatigue, muscle aches or rash following a potential tick bite, it’s best to visit an urgent care center immediately for professional evaluation and treatment.
Urgent care providers are professionally skilled at removing ticks swiftly and safely to reduce further exposure to possible disease.