Summer is here and it’s time to enjoy the great outdoors. Unfortunately, the great outdoors also has ticks, those pesky, blood-sucking arthropods that love to feed on us and which can carry the tick-borne infectious disease, Lyme. Symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, headache, fatigue, and rash. If left untreated, Lyme disease can spread throughout the body, infecting joints, heart, and the nervous system.
With more than 1,750 cases of Lyme disease reported in Maine last year it’s important to know how to protect yourself from ticks this season.
Before you go outside:
- Know where to expect ticks. Ticks live in or near wooded or grassy areas. If you’re hiking, try and stay in the center of the trail and keep away from tall grassy areas.
- There are many products out there that contain Permethrin to kill ticks. You can use this product to treat boots, clothing, and camping gear. Also, try using a repellent that contains 20% or more DEET.
- If you know you’ll be in wooded grassy areas, wear long clothing and tuck in your clothes to avoid openings.
When you come inside:
- Check your clothing for ticks. Ticks can be carried into the house on clothing. Placing clothes into a dryer on high heat for at least an hour effectively kills ticks.
- Shower within two hours of coming indoors. This will help wash off any unattached ticks and is a good opportunity to do a tick check.
- Check your body. These parts are great hiding spots for ticks:
- Under the arms
- In and around the ears
- Inside the belly button
- Back of the knees
- In and around the hair
- Between the legs
- Around the waist
What to do if you find an attached tick:
- Remove the tick as soon as you notice it by grasping it out with tweezers, as close to the skin as possible, and pulling it straight out.
- Watch for a rash or fever in the next few weeks following the bite. Patients who get Lyme from a tick bite will develop a lesion/rash at the site of the bite that resembles a target. If you become ill after a tick bite, call your health care provider.
Now, go enjoy the outdoors!