- Know where to expect ticks. Blacklegged ticks live in moist and humid environments, particularly in or near wooded or grassy areas. To avoid ticks, walk in the center of trails and avoid tall vegetation.
- Wear a long-sleeved shirt.
- Wear light-colored clothing so ticks can be easily spotted.
- Wear a hat.
- Use insect repellents containing 20–50% DEET on exposed skin and clothing. Reapply repellents as needed. (Always follow product labels).
- Wear long pants tucked into high socks.
- Wear shoes or boots, not bare feet or sandals.
- Check your clothing and pets for ticks because ticks may be carried into the house on clothing and pets. Both should be examined carefully, and any ticks that are found should be removed. Placing clothes into a dryer on high heat effectively kills ticks.
- Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you. Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas
- In and around the ears
- Inside the belly button
- Back of the knees
- In and around all head and body hair
- Between the legs
- Around the waist
How to remove a tick
- Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
- Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
- After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
Avoid folklore remedies such as “painting” the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible – not waiting for it to detach.
Signs and symptoms of Lyme Disease
If you had a tick bite, live in an area known for Lyme disease or have recently traveled to an area where it occurs, and have any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention!
Early localized stage (3-30 days post-tick bite)
- Red, expanding rash called erythema migrans (EM)
- Fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes
Some people may get these general symptoms in addition to an EM rash, but in others, these general symptoms may be the only evidence of infection. Or you may get a small bump or redness at the site of a tick bite that goes away in 1-2 days, like a mosquito bite. This is not a sign that you have Lyme disease.
Lyme disease initially affects the skin, causing an expanding reddish rash similar to a target or bull’s-eye
- Rash occurs in approximately 70-80% of infected persons1 and begins at the site of a tick bite after a delay of 3-30 days (average is about 7 days).
- Rash gradually expands over a period of several days, and can reach up to 12 inches (30 cm) across. Parts of the rash may clear as it enlarges, resulting in a “bull’s-eye” appearance.
- Rash usually feels warm to the touch but is rarely itchy or painful.
- EM lesions may appear on any area of the body.
Preventing Ticks on Your Pets
Dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and tick-borne diseases. Vaccines are not available for all the tick-borne diseases that dogs can get, and they don’t keep the dogs from bringing ticks into your home. For these reasons, it’s important to use a tick preventive product on your dog.
Tick bites on dogs may be hard to detect. Signs of tick-borne disease may not appear for 7-21 days or longer after a tick bite, so watch your dog closely for changes in behavior or appetite if you suspect that your pet has been bitten by a tick.
To reduce the chances that a tick will transmit disease to you or your pets:
- Check your pets for ticks daily, especially after they spend time outdoors.
- If you find a tick on your dog, remove it right away.
- Ask your veterinarian to conduct a tick check at each exam.
- Talk to your veterinarian about tick-borne diseases in your area.
- Reduce tick habitat in your yard.
- Talk with your veterinarian about using tick preventives on your pet.
Note: Cats are extremely sensitive to a variety of chemicals. Do not apply any insect acaricides or repellents to your cats without first consulting your veterinarian!