by: Brittany Thelemann, PharmD Candidate 2017, Drake University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Do you have plans of hiking, golfing, or even hanging out in your backyard anytime soon? Then you need to be aware of ticks! While it is a good idea to take preventive measures against ticks year-round, it is important to be extra vigilant in warmer months (April-September) when ticks are most active. Here are some of the most important tips that you and your family should be aware of:
- Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter
- Mow the lawn frequently.
- Walk in the center of trails.
- Use repellents that contain 20 to 30% DEET on exposed skin and clothing for protection that lasts up to several hours. (Make sure to avoid the hands, eyes, and mouth!)
- Use products that contain 0.5% permethrin on gear and clothing, such as boots, pants, socks and tents. Pre-treated clothing is also available and may have longer lasting protection.
- Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks on your body.
- Conduct a full-body tick check with a mirror. Don’t forget to check under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in your hair!
- Examine gear, children, and pets. Ticks can ride into the home then attach to a person later!
- Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors.
How to Remove Ticks:
- Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
- Pull upward with even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick! (This can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin). If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers.
- After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
- Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet– Never crush a tick with your fingers!
- DO NOT use heat to make the tick detach from the skin!
- DO NOT “paint” the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly
Symptoms of a Tick Bite:
- Muscle ache
- Joint pain
Seek Medical Attention Immediately if you or a family member develops these symptoms!! Be sure to tell the doctor about your recent tick bite, when the bite occurred, and where you most likely acquired the tick. Not doing so may lead to serious illnesses such as Lyme’s Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, STARI, Tularemia, and many others. Know the risks of tick bites and keep your family safe!
All information was taken from the CDC- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/ticks/index.html