Summertime is a favorite for most people because they can go outside, interact and soak up the sunshine. However, it’s also a prime time for ticks, which mostly live in wooded and grassy areas. They are a real concern for people who love the wooded areas of the cottage country.
The best news is that you can adopt a few simple measures to protect yourself from the creatures and enjoy your summer without worrying too much about them. Your legs and feet are the connectors between you and the ground, which is the ticks’ habitat; therefore, you should adopt precautions that protect your feet and legs.
Here are some ways to protect yourself and avoid tick bites:
Best Way to Protect Yourself From Ticks
Ticks can carry Lyme disease, a bacterial infection, which might be transmitted to humans through their bite. The most common and earliest symptom of Lyme disease is a red or pink circular rash that develops around the bite area three to thirty days after someone is bitten.
If you have Lyme disease, you might also experience flu-like symptoms, such as:
- Joint or muscle pain
If Lyme disease is not treated, you might develop further health issues months or years later, such as:
- Heart problems
- Problems affecting the nervous system
- Inflammation of the membranes surrounding the spinal cord and the brain.
The best defense against ticks is to avoid being bitten because there are no vaccines to defend you or your loved ones against tick-borne disease. Here is how you can protect yourself from ticks:
Before Going Outdoors
You can protect yourself before going outside by doing the following:
- Treat your clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin. You can use permethrin to treat your camping gear, clothes, and boots. It will remain protective through several piles of washing. You can also opt for permethrin-treated clothing and gear.
- Know where to expect ticks: Ticks mostly live in wooded, bushy, grassy areas and on animals. You can easily get ticks by spending time outside while walking your dog, gardening, camping, or hunting. If you’re taking a walk, it’s best to walk in the center of trails and avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf lifer.
You can also protect yourself from ticks after getting back indoors by doing the following:
- Examine gear and pets: Ticks can get into your home on clothing and pets and then attach to a person later. Therefore, carefully examining coats, pets, and daypacks.
- Inspect your clothing for ticks: You can carry ticks into the house on clothing; therefore, it’s best to check your clothes for ticks and remove any that you find on clothes. You can also tumble dry the clothes in a dryer on high heat for at least ten minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors.
You might have to tumble dry the clothes for longer if the clothes are damp. Use hot water if they require washing first because medium and cold temperatures will not kill ticks.
- Check your body for ticks after being outside: It’s best to conduct a full body check upon returning from potentially tick-infested areas. You can do this check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body. You can check the following parts of your body for ticks:
- In and around the ears
- Inside the belly button
- Under the arms
- Back of the knees
- Between the legs
- In and around the hair
- Around the waist
- Shower as soon as you’re back indoors: Showering within two hours of coming indoors can significantly reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease. It might also be effective in reducing the risk of other tick-borne diseases. Showering also provides an excellent opportunity to do a tick check and wash off unattached ticks.
Can Ticks Go Through Pants?
Spring ticks can be a nuisance; yes, they can go through your un-tucked pants! However, tucking your pants into socks helps keep ticks on your clothes and acts as a barrier to ticks.
The good news is that there’s an easy and fashionable way to tuck your pants and keep the creatures on the outside of your clothing, especially for women and girls. Think of tights or leggings! Ticks will have very little room to crawl under the resistance of tightly fitted clothing. They generally give up at the least resistance to any clothing restriction and bite where they’re stopped.
It’s also a great idea to tuck your shirttail in because the ticks crawling up the outsides of your tucked pants can quickly get under an un-tucked shirt.
Can Ticks Attack Through Clothes?
You shouldn’t be too worried about ticks trying to bite through your clothing but rather passing through your clothing to your skin. One of the simplest ways of avoiding tick bites is wearing appropriate clothing. Ticks can bite through very light fabrics; however, normal movement will often pull their jaws away if they do. Also, opt for clothes that fit snugly at the ankles and wrists because any loose clothing provides an opening for ticks to sneak up and in.
Do Tights Protect From Ticks?
Our feet and legs are the lowest points to the ground; therefore, they’re prime targets for ticks. You can get a tick onto your legs if you stir up fallen leaves or brush up against the grass. Ticks can eventually find their way onto your pant leg or shoe and slowly move from there.
Wearing tights can help keep ticks at bay because there’s no room for a tick to crawl under the resistance of tightly fitted clothing. Ticks give up at the least resistance to any clothing restriction and bite where they’re stopped.
You can also opt for thick leggings or socks that cover the ankle area because they are the best line of defense to protect your legs and, ultimately, your entire body.
You can increase protection against the creatures in a tick-infested area by wearing tick-repellent socks. In addition, you can pre-treat the socks with permethrin to prevent the ticks from biting you.
How Long Do Ticks Crawl On You Before They Bite?
Ticks can attach to any part of the human body, but they prefer hard-to-see areas such as the armpits, scalp, and groin. A tick must be attached for 36 to 48 hours before transmitting the Lyme disease bacterium.
A tick is not like a mosquito, which stays on you for a few minutes. Instead, when a tick crawls on you, it will look for a good spot to set up its ‘operation.’ After finding an ideal spot, the tick starts its meal prep, sometimes for as long as two hours.
Once the tick finds the perfect spot, it’s most likely to feed for about two to three days. After that, if it’s a female, it can swell up to nearly double its normal size, which is often useful when it needs to lay eggs.
Do Tick Bites Itch?
A tick bite can cause immediate, intense itching due to the irritants and toxins in tick saliva. However, itching does not occur for some people.
If you spend time in a tick-infested area, checking your whole body after you leave is crucial to reduce the chances of tick bites.
If a tick bite results in Lyme disease, it can also lead to the development of lesions on the skin, also known as erythema migrans (EM). Erythema migrans don’t trigger any further symptoms; however, some people complain of burning and itchiness around the lesion area.
What to Do When a Tick Bites You
You can do the following if a tick bites you:
- Remove the tick promptly and carefully using fine-tipped tweezers or forceps to grasp the skin as close to the skin as possible. Do not twist or squeeze the tick; pull it gently using a slow and steady upward motion. Be sure not to remove the tick with your bare hands, fingernail polish, petroleum jelly, or a hot match.
- Get hold of the tick and take a picture: A picture of the tick can help you, and your health care provider identify the type of tick and whether you’re at risk of transmitted disease.
- Wash your hands and the bite site using warm water, an iodine scrub, or rubbing alcohol.
Check this too: How to Treat Fire Ant Bites
You should seek emergency care after a tick bite when you develop the following symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing
- A severe headache
- Heart palpitations
It’s best also to contact your doctor during the following instances:
- When you cannot completely remove the tick because the longer the tick remains on the skin, the higher the chances of getting a disease from it. You might also get irritated skin.
- If you think a deer tick bit you because it might transmit Lyme disease.
- If you develop flu-like signs and symptoms such as chills, fever, fatigue, and joint and muscle pain.
- If you think the bite site is infected. Signs of infection include a change in skin color, pain, or oozing from the bite area.
The above tips will help you prevent tick bites. However, be sure to seek medical attention if a tick bites you and you develop severe symptoms or suspect that the bite site is infected.