You and your kids may love playing outdoors during the spring and summer, but so do bugs and pests, such as ticks. With tick season upon us, we have some tick health tips to keep you and your kids safe.
Tick Health Tips to Know Before You Go
A tick bite can cause diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Anytime you head outside, you could come in close contact with ticks, even in your yard.
Before you venture into the great outdoors, arm yourself with these important tick health tips:
- Avoid contact – Keep away from places where ticks tend to hide, such as grassy, brushy or wooded areas. Walk in the center of trails and keep your yard free of tall grass and brush.
- Treat dogs for ticks – Speak with your veterinarian about protecting your pooch from ticks and tick-borne diseases.
- What to wear – Treating your clothes or buying clothes pre-treated with permethrin (an insecticide) can help repel ticks. Wearing light-colored clothes can help you spot ticks more easily.
- How you can tell if it’s a tick – Ticks are small creatures similar to mites and spiders. After they hatch from their eggs, baby ticks have six legs. From one year on, ticks have eight legs. Unfed ticks are flat and shaped like a raindrop.
You can also help repel ticks using an Environmental Protection Agency-certified insect repellent.
How to Remove a Tick
When you or your kids come indoors, check for ticks.
Ticks can be sneaky, so thoroughly check yourself and your child. They like to hide in and around the hair and ears, under the arms, inside belly buttons, around the waist, between the legs and behind the knees. They can also hitchhike indoors on your clothes.
Pulling a tick off is okay if you find one attached to your skin. Here’s how to remove a tick:
- Using tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible.
- Pull directly upwards, being careful not to twist or jerk. If the tick head stays in, don’t panic. Any parts left in the skin will likely come out as the skin heals.
- Don’t crush the tick because this can expose you to any diseases it carries. Instead, dispose of the tick by placing it in a sealed bag or container, putting it in alcohol, wrapping tightly with tape or flushing it down the toilet.
Clean the tick bite with soap and water.
What Not to Do:
- Do not try to kill the tick while it’s still attached to the skin.
- Do not use oil, alcohol or petroleum jelly (Vaseline) – they will not make the tick back out
- Do not burn the tick with a match or smother it – that will just make the tick burrow further.
Time to Call the Doctor
After a tick bite, watch out for the signs and symptoms of tickborne disease. Symptoms include:
- Joint aches and pain
- Muscle pain
Ticks must bite you for you to get sick, and in some cases, your risk for developing disease may be low if the tick has been attached for less than 24 hours.