As the weather continues to warm, ticks are becoming more and more active, eager to find their bloodmeal and we need to be vigilant with our prevention against tick encounters. We’ve covered treating our skin and clothing in preparation for time spent outdoors but it doesn’t end there. We need to form habits to check for ticks once we come inside.
Because children ages 5-14 and adults over 64 make up the highest category of “At-Risk” for new cases of Lyme and tick-borne disease, when we come inside, we need to do our tick checks, we need to teach children how to appropriately do tick checks and as care givers we need to check our seniors.
What is a tick check? It’s a process of looking over your body top to bottom for nymph and adult ticks that you may have unknowingly brought inside with you. Ticks crawl from the ground up looking for the perfect place to feed upon and they thrive on moist, dark areas. The best way to do a tick check is to remove your clothing and then check the following areas: Under the arms, in/around the ears, inside the belly button, back of the knees, in your hair, between the legs/groin area and around your waistline. Nymph ticks are no larger than a poppy seed and are often missed. Use a mirror for hard to see places. You can also shower using shampoos and body washes that contain ingredients like rosemary, eucalyptus and tea tree oil that repels and washes out any ticks you may have missed while checking your hair (Remember: tea tree oil is not safe for pets). While you’re showering, toss your clothing into the dryer for a minimum of 10 minutes on high heat. Ticks cannot survive in dry environments and this will remove and kill any ticks that may have latched onto your clothing. Then you can wash your clothing. Dryer first, then wash. If you have pre-treated your clothing with Permethrin (which you can find at the local hardware stores), tossing them in the dryer is just another safety layer of prevention to kill any ticks that have made their way into your home.
Note: Should you find a tick, save it and get it tested. Since last Monday, I have received over 100 phone calls, emails and Facebook messages about tick encounters and testing. Ticks are active so we need to be vigilant about prevention practices! (directions for testing a tick can be found on our website www.mldse.org)
Misdiagnosed by over twenty-three doctors and specialists, I have made it my life’s mission to raise awareness and educate about tick encounters and prevention practices. By treating your skin and clothing and doing daily tick checks, you are taking control and reducing your chances of being exposed to a tick-borne disease.