May is Lyme Awareness Month
5 Tips to Prevent Tick Bites and Lyme Disease
by Gloria Kim
My name is Gloria Kim and I am a co-founder of Limiting Lyme with my daughter. In addition, I am a member of the Public Tick IPM Working Group, a former fabric designer and mother of 3 kids with one son infected with Lyme and other Tick-borne Diseases for over 12 years. It is the mission of Limiting Lyme to raise awareness of all tick-borne diseases through education, prevention, research, and advocacy.
It only takes one tick bite to make you or a loved one very ill and possibly die. Follow these five tips to avoid ticks, help prevent Lyme disease and help you enjoy the outdoors safely. These tips could help save your life!
1) Create a tick-free zone around your house
Keep your lawn well-manicured throughout warm months.
Create a tick barrier of two feet between your lawn and taller grasses or bushes using dry cedar chips or pebbles.
Add a fence to protect your garden about 8 feet high from deer and rodents.
Eliminate wood and rock piles where the mice tend to live and breed.
Playground equipment should be located on the open lawn away from high grass, bushes and trees.
2) Enjoy the outdoors safely
Stay on marked trails toward the middle of the paths when hiking.
Avoid exposure in wooded, overgrown areas.
Stay out of tall grass & un-cleared areas of the forest floor.
3) Protect yourself, your family and pets by wearing protective clothing treated with tick pesticides and applying insect repellent to your skin.
Wear light colored protective clothing treated with Permethrin. Light colored clothing makes the ticks easier to identify when doing tick checks.
Permethrin is a commonly-used tick pesticide that’s applied to clothing, not to your skin. Permethrin is a unique chemical because it does not need to be reapplied frequently; it stays bound to the material of your clothing and needs only to be reapplied every several months.
Long sleeves, long pants tucked into socks, & shoes.
Avoid going barefoot or wearing open-toe sandals/shoes.
Treat skin with insect repellant to repel ticks. Deet, Lemon of Eucalyptus, Picaridin, and IR3535. These are commonly-used tick repellents that can be applied to the skin safely in adults and children. It must be applied every two to three hours in warm weather. Consult doctor for treating children under three.
When you’re done enjoying the outdoors, it’s a good protective habit to shower immediately; this may wash off ticks that have gotten on to you.
Place your clothing in hot dryer for 20 minutes to kill any ticks before washing. Ticks do not like dry heat.
4) Perform tick checks after coming in from outdoors and showering. This includes checking your pets after being outside.
The risk of getting Lyme disease is greater the longer a tick is attached. Therefore, doing tick checks is important so they can be removed before they transmit Lyme disease.
Common sites of attachment: underarm, navel, groin, buttocks, behind the knees, in the scalp, along the waistline and areas of the back.
The most important thing is to get ticks off of you before they attach and have the chance to transmit any diseases.
5) Remove ticks immediately by grasping them with fine point tweezers and pulling them off of the skin.
The quickest way to remove a tick is with fine point tweezers. Grasp the tick between the head of the tick and the skin and to pull firmly but gently away.
The most important point is to remove the tick quickly.
Removing a tick in the first 24 hours dramatically reduces the risk of Lyme disease and is your best protection in prevention.