At Vibrant Health, we’re all about great weather, and we love to be outdoors. But, unfortunately, so do some less welcome pests: ticks.
Some ticks are alright but others cary blood-borne diseases. In particular, backlegged ticks are known to transmit Lyme disease. (See the Center for Disease Control’s tick identifier to learn more.)
While Lyme disease is named for its Connecticut discovery, backlegged ticks can be found spanning the entire east coast, reaching nearly halfway across the country. What’s more, western backlegged ticks also carry Lyme disease and range throughout the entire western coast.
From May to July, right when the springtime arrives for almost all of the US, the ticks are out in full force. What can you do to keep yourself, your pets, and your loved ones safe?
1. Wear bug repellant.
Different types will work well depending on what you need them to do. Check out the EPA’s repellant finder to determine what is best for your family.
2. Wear long sleeves and long pants.
Even though ticks can still cling onto clothing, it’s best to make it difficult for them to bite you.
3. Stay on the trail.
Heavily wooded areas with dense brush, high grass, or leaves can make a happy habitat for ticks. Do your best to stay on the trail when you’re out in the woods. (It’s better for the other things living there as well!)
4. Inspect body, clothing, pets, and gear carefully.
As soon as you get inside, inspect yourself, your clothes, and anything you brought with you for any hitchhikers. If you find a live tick, the CDC recommends submersing it in alcohol, placing it in an air-tight bag or container, or flushing it down the toilet.
5. Put everything in the dryer.
When you come inside, throw your clothes in the dryer for at least 10 minutes. The heat will kill any ticks. If they are damp, more time might be required.
6. Take a shower.
Shower within two hours of coming inside. This will help remove any tick that you may have missed when inspecting that hasn’t latched on.
7. Spot a tick? Remove it right away.
Remove a tick as soon as you see it. Consult the CDC’s website for safe removal instructions.
8. Keep an eye on the area.
Once the tick is removed, it’s possible you’re in the clear—but just in case, keep an eye on the area of the bite. If a rash develops within the next few weeks, seek medical attention immediately.
9. If you see a rash, go to the doctor.
While Lyme disease can be a difficult diagnosis, there are many things a doctor can do to help you manage your situation. For example, even if tests come back negative for Lyme, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics regardless, as a fail safe.
10. Supplement wisely.
Certain supplements, like cinnamon and cat’s claw, have antibacterial properties and can increase the effectiveness of antibiotics. Some nutritionists recommend even taking these supplements daily if you plan to be out in the woods.
Bonus: should I freeze the tick for later testing?
The CDC’s answer is no, it’s not recommended to save the tick. Laboratories that do this type of testing don’t have the same quality control standards of medical facilities, and shouldn’t be relied upon for a diagnosis or treatment. Furthermore, positive results of an organism doesn’t always mean that you have been infected.
This tick season, have fun, and stay safe!