7 Tips To Avoid Getting Sick From Ticks

Posted: Jun 23 2014, 1:52am CDT | by , Updated: Jun 23 2014, 1:55am CDT, in News | Also on the Geek Mind

7 Tips to Avoid Getting Sick from Ticks
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Every year, between 20,000 and 30,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme Disease, says the CDC. That’s a lot of people – and many experts believe the CDC’s numbers are way low, since Lyme disease can go unrecognized for many years.

But Lyme is just one of a growing list of serious diseases transmitted by ticks. Rocky Mountain spotted fever, babesiosis, erlichiosis and the latest threat, the Heartland Virus, are all on the rise.

And now’s the time to be vigilant – it’s the height of tick season and tick-borne diseases pose a major risk in many places. In recent weeks, health commissioners in states including Indiana, Missouri, and New York have issued alerts for a high-risk season of tick-borne disease.

So how do you protect yourself, your family, and your pets?

How to Keep Ticks from Biting:

  1. Wear long sleeves and long pants outdoors, even when it’s hot. Light-colored, breathable cotton will be most comfortable, but be aware that ticks can easily crawl inside – and hide under – loose pant and sleeve cuffs.
  2. Use a strong insect repellent. Yes, there are health concerns about DEET, no point in pretending there aren’t. But if it’s the only thing that works against ticks in your area, use it, as the threat from the ticks themselves is greater. (Remember, you can wash the repellent off later.) Research shows most people overestimate the risk from DEET, often confusing it with DDT. It is toxic only in very large quantities and is not a known carcinogen.
  3. If you won’t use DEET, use Picaridin. Repellents containing picaridin, an ingredient derived from pepper, may be safer, but it hasn’t been in use as long so we don’t really know.
  4. Do a tick check. Strip off your clothes and look for ticks as soon as you get indoors. If someone else is available to check areas such as the back of your neck and head, enlist their help.
  5. Look for teensy tiny ticks. Remember, many tick-borne diseases are carried by ticks while in the nymph stage, at which point they are smaller than the head of a pin. Be suspicious of any speck that doesn’t brush off.
  6. Wash ticks away. Take a shower as soon as possible, preferably within two hours.
  7. Tick-proof your pets. The systemic flea and tick repellents available from your vet and from pet stores can help prevent ticks from attaching themselves to your dog or cat. They work via neurotoxins (most commonly imidacloprid, fipronil, and permethrin that attack ticks’ central nervous systems.)

If you must go au-natural, here’s a recipe for a natural tick-repellent.

For Pets:

In a spray bottle, mix 1 cup water and 2 cups distilled white vinegar. (Ticks loathe the smell and taste of vinegar, supposedly.) Add 2 teaspoons vegetable or almond oil, both of which contain sulfur, which ticks also dislike.

For Humans:

Follow the recipe above, but add eucalyptus oil, an additional repellent that at least partially masks the vinegar smell.

Please share your tick-prevention tips in the comments below. More tips are available from the FDA on how to protect yourself against tick-borne illnesses.

For more health news, follow me here on Forbes.com, on Twitter and Instagram @MelanieHaiken, and subscribe to my posts on Facebook.

This story may contain affiliate links.


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