Strategies to avoid tick bites
- Use repellent on shoes, clothing and skin. Permethrin (Permethrin Fact Sheet) is recommended for shoes, hats and clothing because it kills ticks. Products with Picardin (Picardin Fact Sheet) and Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus are safer and more effective than DEET. Check out this Consumer Reports article on what really works against ticks before you head out to pick up your tick sprays.
- Wear light colored clothing to make ticks more visible and a hat when in the woods or fields and don't forget to tuck your pants legs into your socks. Spray hat and shoes with permethrin every 5 washes. Use Duck tape sticky side out around your ankles or thighs but keep it loose. Ticks will get stuck climbing.
- Leave shoes outside and place all clothing in a hot dryer for 10 minutes when you come back inside to kill ticks. Or if that's not immediately possible, store a lint roller with the sticky paper in your vehicle and roll it over clothing to pick up ticks.
- Take a shower to wash of sprays and ticks as soon as possible. Perform tick checks on all family members. Focus on hairy areas and where the hairline is on the neck, especially on young children. Use your fingers to feel for tiny bumps because deer ticks are notoriously hard to see due to their tiny size. They can be easier to feel than see. Learn about how to safely remove ticks below. Don't ever grab the tick by the body, only by the head/neck area to avoid expressing contents of tick's stomach into bite.
- Don't forget to treat your pets regularly because not only do they transmit Lyme by bringing ticks into the house, they can catch Lyme disease too. Talk to your veterinarian and be sure to consider more than one of the following options: once-a-month topicals, collars, sprays & powders and shampoos. There is also a Lyme vaccine available if you live in an endemic area.
- Do your best to stay on trails while hiking! Also, pay attention to any symptoms you may have after hiking, particularly if they are flu-like or you see any bulls eye or skin rash that's not poison ivy.
Safe Tick Removal Tips
- Never pinch the tick's body. You want to avoid squeezing the contents of the stomach into the human. Use tweezers to grab firmly on tick's neck and pull straight out. Use a tissue to protect hands if no tweezers are available. Clean the area with soap and water or alcohol after the removal.
- Store tick in plastic Ziploc bag with a leaf. Label it with date, name of person it was removed from etc. Freeze tick if necessary to save for testing in case of symptoms. Take pictures of any rashes, take notes about any symptoms and be prepared to head straight to your doctor if need be. Mail the tick off for free testing by the Bay Area Lyme Foundation: Free Tick Testing Here.
- You can also purchase tick removal kits to keep in your hiking backpack.
Free Tick Testing
Bay Area Lyme Foundation offers free tick testing: Free Tick Testing Here.