You spent a relaxing day at the park, hiking the hills or working in your backyard only to find that you have become a tick feast. Ticks are definitely not something that we want on ourselves, our kids or pets. My husband and I have recreational property in the Blue Mountains of Eastern Washington and we are frequently exposed to these pesky creatures. I want to share a few suggestions on how to minimize the risk of tick bites that we practice when we are off in the woods.
How to avoid ticks:
- Wear light colored clothing when you are out. This makes it easier to see the ticks so that you can remove them.
- When hiking, tuck your pant legs into your boots to keep the ticks on the outside of your clothes.
- Spray the outside of your clothes with permethrin to minimize ride-alongs. You can also use a bug repellent that contains DEET on your body.
- After your outing remove your clothes and leave them in an outside area to go through. Ticks often come into our homes on our clothes and then crawl onto us and pets when we don’t expect it. You can kill ticks on clothes by throwing them in the dryer for 10 minutes. Ticks can’t survive this hot environment.
- Immediately take a shower after you come in. This can help remove any ticks in your hair and on your body before they have a chance to attach.
- Make sure to examine yourself and your children carefully. Ticks like to attach on the neck at the hair line, behind the ears, in underarm areas, behind knees and even in the abdominal area.
- Do not remove embedded ticks by twisting them or burning them. The best way we have found to remove them is with a little flat tool called a Tick Removal Key. Slide it underneath and then as you lift the tick up they will release. Some people find a pair of tweezers an effective way to remove ticks as well. Grasp the tick body with the tweezers and pull straight up. Be sure to wash the site with soap and hot water afterwards. You can also use rubbing alcohol to clean the site.
- Be sure to check your pets for ticks as well after your outing.
- Make sure to appropriately dispose of the ticks. There are a number of ways to get rid of them. Some people will flush them down the toilet. You can also pour rubbing alcohol on them. Our favorite technique is to freeze them for a short while before we discard them. Do not throw live ticks into the trash. This increases the risk that they will climb out and again find a warm body.
Although you cannot completely eliminate the risk of ticks these suggestions should help to reduce the risk to yourself, your kids and your pets. Get out there and enjoy these wonderful spring days with a little less stress knowing that you are reducing your exposure to ticks.