Ticks and Tricks: Tips for Protecting Yourself from Lymes Disease
By Valentina Brown, Girls Who Hike Massachusetts Ambassador
As the temperature rises so does the chance of finding those pesky little blood suckers on your skin, while ticks are most active in the summer months they are actually active all year round! Take it from a "lymie" like me, you don't want to deal with lymes disease. The number of cases is rising and the chance of infection is getting higher, so better not take your chances!
So, what can I do to protect myself?
Treat your clothing with permethrin. It comes in a spray bottle and you simply spray your clothing until completely wet and let it dry, it even lasts through six washes! Ticks usually crawl up from your legs so treating your pants and socks is the most important.
Wear leggings or tuck the bottom of your pants into your socks, the less entry points the better.
Wear light colored clothing, it's much easier to find a dark spot on beige pants than it is black.
On exposed skin, use bug repellant that contains at least 20% deet (100% might be overkill and could harm synthetic clothing).
Wash your clothes in hot water when you get home to kill anything that might have hitched a ride.
And the final, most important thing you can do, is to check your whole body over when you get home from a hike. Ticks can crawl anywhere, so strip down and get up close and personal
I found a tick on me, now what?!
Firstly remove it, but you have to make sure that you get the whole thing out including the head. Tweezers are great to keep in your first aid kit if you find a tick while out on the trail, if you’re the squeamish type you could also get the "Tick Key" tick remover (great for dogs too). If you're at home when you find it you can burn it or flush it down the toilet (obviously don't recommend burning it when you're outside, we don't want any wildfires here).
CIRCLE THE SPOT. Take a permanent marker and draw a circle on your skin with the bite spot in the center, it doesn't have to be huge just a couple inches. It will help you remember exactly where the spot is so that you can monitor it for signs of rash or the infamous bulls eye.
Early symptoms of lymes could include a rash at the bite spot, fatigue, fever, headache and joint pain. If you found an attached tick and are feeling at all unsure, always go to your doctor and request a blood test.
Remember, a tick must be attached for at least 24hrs so the best thing you can do is to check!