Reports show growing new tick populations are spreading to new areas due to a changing climate. Humid conditions in the Northeast have led to ticks popping up in New York and New Jersey.
It is not surprising then, that the number of new cases has skyrocketed to over 300,000 a year. A terrifying statistic when you consider the toll Lyme disease can take on your body.
Awareness has increased as popular celebrities, like Avril Lavigne and Yolanda Foster, have even contracted the disease. “I had no idea a bug bite could do this,” Avril told People magazine. “I was bedridden for five months. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t talk and I couldn’t move.”
Don’t be caught unaware this summer. Ticks are out, here’s how to keep them away.
5 Tips for Lyme Disease Prevention and to Repel Tick Bites
1. Dress Tick Appropriate
I get it. It’s summer, it’s hot, and you want to wear a t-shirt and shorts when you’re hiking. Who doesn’t? The problem is, all that exposed flesh is super inviting to ticks.
A better option is to wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. I know it might be brutally hot, but it’s far better than potentially getting Lyme disease. Just be sure to bring water. If the area you are hiking through is particularly thick, you can even tuck your pants into your socks.
2. Use Bug Repellent
Many experts recommend using a bug repellent with DEET on your skin and one containing permethrin on your clothes and gear because it can kill ticks on contact.
If you want to avoid the chemicals found in typical store-bought bug repellents, there are some excellent homemade alternatives, like this one.
3. Check Check Check
Checking yourself is by far the most important thing you can do. If you remove a tick quickly enough, the chances of you getting Lyme disease are reduced dramatically.
So after a hike or after being out in the garden, take a shower and thoroughly check your body. Under your arms, inside your belly button, behind your knees, around your ears, through your hair, they can hide anywhere. So take your time and be thorough.
4. Know How to Properly Remove A Tick
If you do happen to find a tick, you need to know how to get rid of it properly. You’ll need a pair of sharp, fine-tipped tweezers so that you can get close to your skin and pull it off entirely. Its legs may be embedded in your skin, so be careful.
After it’s removed you can then clean the area with rubbing alcohol or an iodine scrub.
5. Know What to Look For
If you feel feverish or find a suspicious rash, you should see your doctor immediately, especially if you’ve just been outdoors. Fatigue and swollen lymph nodes are also signs to look for. You can find a complete list of possible symptoms here.
Enjoy the outdoors this summer, just be careful.