Warmer weather means an uptick in…well, ticks. And they’re not pleasant.
Have you already pulled a tick off of one of your children this year? Do you want to never have to? A mild winter this past year enabled ticks to thrive more than ever.
Here’s How to Prevent ‘Em
Avoid Tall Grass and Leaves. Ticks love hiding in there, so keep your lawn neat and mowed, and don’t walk through that abandoned yard. Ditto when you’re out hiking (stay ON the trail). Ticks can’t fly or jump. They sit on the edges of those blades of grass and bushes and latch on when someone brushes up against them. They mostly get onto their host from the legs or ankles and then crawl up to areas where they can hide.
Have Your Lawn Sprayed with Insecticides. Services that spray your yard to prevent mosquitoes will also spray for ticks.
Spray Your Clothing and Exposed Skin. There are two types of insect repellant spray that are used to repel ticks. Sprays that contain permethrin such as this are the most effective and are used on clothing only (so if you always wear specific clothes on your hikes, you’re good). They will also last through several washes in the fibers of your clothing so there’s no need to keep reapplying. Repellants that contain DEET, such as OFF! are easier to find but less effective. They can be used on outer surfaces of clothing and skin, but last only 6 hours. Spray around the socks and ankles specifically. Tznius helps! When your body is covered with clothing, it’s harder for ticks to get to your skin.
Check! Get your older children in the habit of checking all over their body after coming inside, and check your younger children daily when bathing or showering after spending time outdoors, especially the scalp. Showering immediately helps wash off some ticks.
Kill. If you’ve gone hiking or have walked through an especially woody, grassy area, wash that clothing with hot water. It’ll kill anything that might be hanging on. Tumble drying dry clothes in a dryer for 10 minutes will also work.
Found a Tick? What’s Next?
Get out your tweezers immediately! The CDC says to grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible and pull upwards with steady, even pressure.
Once the tick is removed, flush it down the toilet. Don’t try to kill it by crushing.
Wash the affected area and your hands with soap and water.
Once you’ve removed the tick, there is nothing else that can be done at that time. But be vigilant! Mark your calendar to remember the date. If you or your child develops a rash or fever within 30 days of removing the tick, visit the doctor immediately, as you may need an antibiotic.
Is that tick harmful?
Note that while there are many types of ticks, in the Northeast there are two that are the most common. Deer ticks, the small black types you most often see, are the variety that may be carriers of Lyme Disease. The larger, Dog Ticks (with a white-ish body) are larger and though they may look scary, it’s very rare that they contain any disease.
Edited: Reader Suri B. recommended keeping these tick tweezer on hand for easier tick removal.