Be Tick Free
May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month
May is the month when most people who get Lyme disease are exposed to it. Nymphal deer ticks are active from May through July, and it is the bite of these small ticks (as opposed to adult deer ticks active in fall) that lead to most Lyme infections.
What You Can Do to Protect Yourself
Nymphal deer ticks are very small and their bites often go unnoticed. It is extremely important to do a thorough body check after being outdoors in areas where ticks may be present. Removing a tick as soon as you find it (particularly within 36 hours) will reduce the likelihood of contracting any disease that tick may be carrying.
Other personal protective measures that can be done to reduce the likelihood of getting a tick-borne disease include:
- When in tick-infested habitat-wooded and grassy areas-wear light-colored clothing (to spot ticks) and tuck pants into socks and shirt into pants.
- After every two to three hours outdoors, check for ticks on clothing or skin. Brush off any ticks on clothing before they can attach to your skin. Also, check your children and pets for ticks.
- Do a thorough tick-check of your entire body at the end of the day. Pay particular attention to the back of the knees, behind the ears, the scalp, the armpits and your back.
- Removing a tick within 36 hours after it begins feeding, reduces your risk of infection. To remove a tick: Use tweezers, grasping the tick near the mouthparts, as close to the skin as possible. Don't squeeze, crush or puncture the body of the tick, which may contain infectious fluids. Pull the tick in a steady, upward motion away from the skin.
- After removing the tick, disinfect the bite site with soap, rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. Wash your hands carefully. Record the date and location of the tick bite. If a rash appears or you experience flu-like symptoms over the next 30 days, contact your health care provider immediately.
- Consider using insect repellents to reduce tick bites. Follow label instructions carefully. Use repellents only in small amounts, avoiding unnecessary repeat application.
- Children may be at greater risk for reactions to repellents, in part, because their exposure may be greater. Do not apply repellents directly to children. Apply to your own hands and then put it on the child.
- Do not apply repellents near eyes, nose or mouth and use sparingly around ears. Do not apply to the hands of small children.