Some ticks carry bacteria that can lead to an infection and other ailments. If the infection is left untreated, it can lead to a chronic disease, like Lyme disease. Therefore, it’s extremely important to learn the best tick prevention methods to ensure you can enjoy the outdoors.
Being outdoors has so many physical and mental health benefits. Following some simple steps allows you to enjoy being outdoors, soak up vitamins and nutrients from the sun, and boost the “feel-good” chemicals in the brain like endorphins, serotonin, GABA, and dopamine. Below are nine summer tick prevention tips.
1. Research Ticks in Your Area
Multiple ticks can live in the same place, and not all pose a threat. You can’t know how to prevent something if you aren’t sure if it exists in your area. Therefore, take some time to research which ticks are prevalent in the outdoor areas you visit.
Tick-borne illnesses in the United States have more than doubled in the past two decades due to a lack of awareness, a growing population, and environmental change. Although hundreds of tick species are found worldwide, fewer than 60 are known to bite and spread disease to humans. Some of the more common human-biting ticks in the United States include:
- American dog tick
- Black-legged tick
- Brown dog tick
- Groundhog tick
- Gulf Coast tick
- Lone Star tick
- Rocky Mountain wood tick
- Asian longhorned tick
- Soft tick
- Western black-legged tick
Overall, the deer or black-legged tick carries the most risk of spreading Lyme disease or co-infections. If you live in the Northeast, deer tick interaction is more common than in Hawaii, where no cases of Lyme disease have occurred to date.
2. Research the Outdoor Area
Preparation eliminates a lot of mistakes. The more knowledge you have about something, the better you can prepare for it. Knowing the habitats of ticks can help. For example, if you want to go hiking on an off-road trail, check out how dense the brush and weeds are so you can dress accordingly. If you visit a local park to meet friends, learn which areas you will see. Take protective clothing and shoes you can change into if needed. Even when hanging out in your backyard, investigate which areas may have ticks.
3. Know What Ticks Like Most
Deer ticks have many habits, and learning what they are can help prevent getting one. Deer tick habitats include brushy, weedy, unmanicured areas. They hang out on the blades of tall grass, and when you pass by them, they latch onto you. Once on your body, they search for the perfect spot to bite you, embed under your skin, and feed on your blood. Once they access your bloodstream, they transmit bacteria to your system.
4. Wear Protective Clothing for Tick Prevention
During the coronavirus pandemic, everyone wore a mask to protect against contracting COVID. There are no guarantees, of course, for any protective clothing. However, firefighters understand that wearing fireproof materials gives them better protection from being burned when fighting a fire. The same is valid for preventing tick bites. Examples of protective clothing to wear in areas where ticks thrive include the following:
- Closed-toe shoes or boots
- Jeans or pants
- Long-sleeve shirt or jacket
- Ball cap or hat
Adding a layer of clothing between you and a tick makes it harder for them to get to your skin. Wearing light-colored clothing makes it easier to notice a tick, which can be very difficult since they are only the size of a poppy seed.
5. Use Tick Repellant
Plenty of repellants exist today, and this is one of the better tick prevention methods. They are safe, and they work, especially the repellants with permethrin. If you don’t like sprays, you can purchase socks, shoes, and other items of clothing that are pretreated with permethrin. Remember to spray repellants on your clothing and not directly on the skin.
6. Maintain Your Lawn and Property
More ticks are finding their way to your neighborhood and personal property. The reason is that land developers continue deforestation to build residential and commercial properties. They may not consider that removing forests means deer and all other wildlife must find a new place to live.
Or they can stay nearby and adapt to an urbanized environment. If you see deer, bears, raccoons, squirrels, skunks, foxes, and other wildlife in your neighborhood or yard, the animals have adapted to their new environment living among humans.
7. Keep Wildlife Out
While seeing wildlife is fun, and the animals seem cute, they bring diseases closer to your home. Most wildlife, including the ones listed above, birds, moles, and rabbits, are perfect hosts for the black-legged ticks that carry and transmit Lyme disease. The most crucial step to keeping wildlife out of your yard is to keep it manicured.
Wildlife is attracted to trash, food scraps, rodents, pet feed, and water sources. If they find food and water sources on your property, they will likely find shelter there. Wildlife carrying ticks like to hide in brush piles, piles of rocks or logs, or junk piles. Maintain your yard by:
- Keeping the grass mowed low
- Removing clutter
- Garden fencing
- Eliminating all possible food, water, and shelter resources
8. Seek Low Humidity
Ticks cannot survive in an environment that is less than 80% humidity for longer than eight hours. Ticks have an outer shell that needs moisture, which is why they hide in moist leaf piles and grass. Without it, they die.
Stay in the sun for as long as possible. There’s a hack for this if you can’t stay in the sun for long periods. When you get home from being outdoors, throw all the clothing you have on into the dryer. The heat will kill the ticks.
9. Tick Prevention Starts With Examination
While your clothes are in the dryer, spend time checking yourself for ticks. Take a quick shower and examine all your body parts. After a tick latches onto your body, it can roam around your body for up to two days looking for the perfect spot to bite you. Ticks don’t bite.
They break the skin and embed themselves underneath it in search of blood, the only thing they eat. Without blood, a tick will die. This need for blood means you may have time to find a tick before it transmits Lyme disease. Knowing the different types of ticks is essential to identifying what you have. Don’t forget to check your pets for ticks, too.
Following these summer tick prevention tips and enjoy numerous outdoor activities. Have a great time without fearing being bitten by a tick and contracting Lyme disease.