Some of you may have heard that 2017 is showing signs of being a very bad tick season. We wanted to share some tips and tricks for dealing with them. We know a lot of you are outdoor enthusiasts, so you’ll be spending a lot of time on and off the trails. Knowing how to remove ticks is gross, but it might just save the day!
What are ticks?
Ticks are small arachnid parasites that feed off of blood. They tend to hang out in shady and moist areas. They can often be found in grass, brush, and shrubs. You can sometimes find them in lawns and gardens, or along stones. The gross thing about them is that once they get on you, they embed their head into your skin to suck blood. Not only is it disgusting, but also dangerous. Ticks are known to carry diseases like Lyme disease, Powassan virus, and many more.
Tips for dealing with ticks
There are actually many different types of ticks, and some are known to carry certain types of diseases. However, they all seem to do the same thing, so these tips should apply to all types.
1. Do a full body search after spending a day outdoors:
This is especially important if you’ve been off the beaten path or camping, and includes your pets too. They are fairly easy to spot on the body, and get larger once they start sucking blood.
Scientific studies have shown that ticks are able to smell carbon dioxide from your breath and ammonia from your sweat, and will move in the direction once a host is detected. If you’re spending significant time in one location, like camping and laying out in a hammock, you’re probably at a higher risk. So make sure you take the time to look over your body to verify you don’t have latching onto you.
Showering after a hike is always recommended. Also, you’ll want to make sure there isn’t anything crawling around your back. If you don’t have anyone to check those hard to see places or don’t have access to a mirror, you can use a lint roller.
2. Carry a tick removal tool:
I highly recommend buying a tool if you spend significant time outside. For example, the Tick Key is a small aluminum plate that easily and safely removes a tick from your skin without even having to touch the parasite. It’s so easy to use, and extremely inexpensive. You can get one for about $7, or a pack of three for $16.
There are other effective tools as well, many with a similar design concept and others such as the Tick Twister and Ticked Off. There are also specially designed tweezers for handling ticks in case you want to be more hands-on with your tick removal.
The official method for removing a tick involves grabbing it with tweezers as close to the skin as possible and pulling it off. There are other non-official ways that you’ll hear people use as well. This includes using rubbing alcohol or peppermint oil to suffocate or poison the tick, or using matches or cigarettes to burn them off. These methods are typically not safe since the tick can often vomit into the bite site, increasing your risk of catching a disease. Not to mention that it’s totally gross!
3. Use alcohol and/or tape when disposing of them:
Once you’ve removed one, you can often kill them with dish soap or rubbing alcohol. Also, I recommend covering them with tape before putting them in the trash (just in case they still happen to be alive).
4. Dress appropriately:
If you know you’ll be spending time outside and in areas where ticks are present, you should wear long pants. Since ticks are most likely to latch on toward the bottom half of your body, it makes sense to keep it covered.
I know it can be really uncomfortable to wear pants in hot weather, so I recommend finding ones that can breathe or vent properly. I personally own a couple of pairs of Prana Brion pants, and they are my go-to travel and outdoor pants. They breathe well, so they work great for a variety of travel and outdoor situations.
5. Wear insect repellent:
While most insect repellents contain DEET, which is effective against mosquitos, ticks are generally unaffected by it. If you want to repel ticks, you will want to use a permethrin-based spray or lotion. Keep in mind that permethrin should only be applied to clothing and not skin since it is toxic. If you are applying it to your clothing, I recommend allowing it to dry thoroughly on the garment before putting it on. Also, keep in mind that it’s toxic to pets, so only use it if you think you’re at high risk and not going to be around your pets.
If you’re looking for a more natural alternative, there are a lot of folks online saying that rose geranium extract works as a tick repellant. It’s hard to tell whether it’s actually effective or not. I couldn’t find any scientific studies to prove it. However, it might be worth exploring if you’re looking for something less harmful and toxic.
Do you have any tips or experiences with ticks? If so, please share them in the comment section below.
- “How to Remove a Tick” (WebMD)
- “You’re Probably Going to Get a Tick This Summer. Good Luck.”(Lifehacker)
- “Tick Types” (Dogs & Ticks)
- “How to Remove a Tick” (Art of Manliness)