As summer approaches, so does tick season. For those of us living in the northeast, there are numerous warnings that this year will be among one of the worse in recent years for ticks and everything that they bring with them. There are a few things you can do proactively to protect yourself from these unwanted pests.
1. Treat your clothing and equipment. One of the most effective preventative measures you can take to help combat these pesky insects is to treat your clothing and equipment before you venture into the woods with Permethrin. Permethrin, the synthetic version, acts similarly to the natural extracts from the chrysanthemum flower. There are many commercially sold permethrin products on the market that are very good, that will treat many “outfits” (shirt, pants, socks). The treatment can last several weeks or through numerous washings, depending on the manufacturer. Treatment usually requires spraying permethrin directly on the garment or equipment and then allowing it to completely dry before use. When treated properly, ticks will actually die when they crawl on clothing or equipment that has been treated with permethrin. Wearing rubber gloves when treating clothing or equipment is prudent. Also, follow all cautions and warnings on the label of whatever product you use. For me, the best product I have found and use every year to treat my clothing is Sawyer Permethrin Spray. I can usually get two treatments of 3 full outfits in one season. If treated correctly, the treatment will last through 3 washings.
2. Treat/protect exposed skin. In addition to treating your clothing and equipment, protecting one’s exposed skin is equally important. The first line of defense to protecting your exposed skin is to wear long pants, at least crew-length socks, and long sleeves. Light colored clothing will help you to identify any ticks crawling on you, even the small ones. In addition to covering as much of you as possible with clothing, you should also treat exposed skin as well. There are several products available on the market that can protect you. The purpose of this blog is not to determine which is the best one, merely, to just provide information to take the necessary precautions. Tick repellents with 100% Deet are effective as are several natural tick repellents. Whatever you decide to use, use it.
3. Do the tick check. After every outing, take time at your vehicle, before you head home to do at least a preliminary check for unwanted hitch-hikers. Doing this before you start your trip back home will help to keep them out of your vehicle and sneaking up on you later. When you do get home, it is best to do a full tick check – head to toe – and enlist the help of a significant other to check the nether regions you can’t see with you own eyes.
4. Be vigilant. For a few days after your outings it is a good idea to redo a tick check and to check for signs and symptoms of possible tick bites. The CDC has published information regarding ticks, tick-bites, and tickborne illnesses – CDC Tickborne illnesses.
Enjoying the great outdoors doesn’t have to include dealing with lyme disease or another type of tickbourne illnesses. A few simple steps and some precaution will keep you safe whenever venture into the wilderness!