Do your tick checks
As the weather continues to warm, ticks are becoming more and more active, eager to find their bloodmeal, and we must be vigilant with our prevention against tick encounters. We’ve covered treating our skin and clothing in preparation for time spent outdoors, but it doesn’t end there. We must form habits to check for ticks once we come inside.
Because children ages 5 to 14 and adults over 64 make up the highest category of risk for new cases of Lyme and tick-borne disease, when we come inside, we should do our tick checks, we should teach children how to appropriately do tick checks and as caregivers we should to check older family members.
What is a tick check?
It’s a process of looking over your body top to bottom for nymph and adult ticks that you may have unknowingly brought inside with you. Ticks crawl from the ground up, looking for the perfect place to feed upon, and they thrive in moist, dark areas. The best way to do a tick check is to remove your clothing and then check the following areas: under the arms, in/around the ears, inside the belly button, the backs of the knees, in your hair, between the legs/groin area and around the waistline.
Nymph ticks are no larger than a poppy seed and are often missed. Use a mirror for hard-to-see places. You can also shower using shampoos and body washes that contain ingredients like rosemary, eucalyptus and tea tree oil that repel and wash out any ticks you may have missed while checking your hair. (Remember: tea tree oil is not safe for pets).
While you’re showing, toss your clothing into the dryer for a minimum of 10 minutes on high heat. Ticks cannot survive in dry environments, and this will remove and kill any ticks that may have latched onto your clothing. Then you can wash your clothing. Dryer first, then wash. If you have pre-treated your clothing with Permethrin (which you can find at the local hardware stores), tossing them in the dryer is just another safety layer of prevention to kill any ticks that have made their way into your home.
As president of Midcoast Lyme Disease Support & Education and a survivor of late-stage neurological Lyme disease and co-infections (all from one tick), I have made it my personal mission to raise awareness and educate about just how easy it is to have a tick encounter and not even realize it. By treating your skin and clothing and doing daily tick checks, you are taking charge and reducing your chances of being exposed to a tick-borne disease.