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Tick Removal and Lyme Disease Prevention Tips

Posted January 21, 2023 by Mike Lewis under Tips

Tick Removal and Lyme Disease Prevention Tips

How to Properly Remove a Tick

Ticks are tiny parasites that feed on blood. They live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas and can attach themselves to people or animals that walk by. Ticks are concerning because they can transmit bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens through their bites. The most common tick-borne disease in North America is Lyme disease, which is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. Proper tick removal is crucial to reduce the chances of contracting Lyme disease or other tick-borne illnesses. Here are some tips for safely removing ticks:

Use Fine-Tipped Tweezers

  • To remove a tick, use fine-tipped tweezers and grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible.

  • Avoid squeezing or crushing the tick’s body during removal.

Pull Upwards Slowly But Steadily

  • Once you have a firm grip on the tick near the skin, pull upwards slowly but steadily.

  • Do not jerk or twist the tick, as the mouthparts may break off and remain in the skin.

  • Continue pulling upwards until the tick releases its grip. This may take some time.

Disinfect the Bite Area

  • After removing the tick, disinfect the bite area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.

Dispose of the Tick

  • Do not crush the tick with your fingers. Place it in a sealed container, wrap it tightly in tape, or flush it down the toilet.

  • Saving the tick may help with identification or testing, if needed.

Wash Your Hands and Monitor the Bite Site

  • Be sure to wash your hands after handling a tick.

  • Monitor the bite site over the next several weeks for signs of a rash or infection.

  • Contact your doctor if any symptoms develop.

How to Prevent Tick Bites and Lyme Disease

While tick removal is important, prevention is the best way to avoid contracting Lyme disease. Here are some tips to prevent tick bites and Lyme disease when spending time outdoors:

Wear Light Colored, Protective Clothing

  • Wear shoes, long pants tucked into socks, and long sleeves.

  • Light colored clothing makes ticks easier to spot and remove promptly.

Use Insect Repellent

  • Use DEET or permethrin-based repellents on exposed skin and clothing.

  • Permethrin can remain effective through several washings. DEET may need to be reapplied periodically.

Perform Tick Checks

  • Check your whole body for ticks after being outdoors, especially in tick habitats.

  • Pay close attention to the groin, armpits, and scalp.

  • Ask someone to check hard to see areas like your back.

  • Tumble dry clothes on high heat for 10 minutes to kill any remaining ticks.

Consider Preventative Treatment for Pets

  • Talk to your veterinarian about tick collars, sprays, spot-on treatments, or oral medication to protect pets.

  • Check pets daily for ticks.

Keep Grass Mowed

  • Keeping grass cut short and brush cleared in your yard can help reduce ticks.

Create Barriers with Wood Chips or Gravel

  • Placing wood chips or gravel between wooded/grassy areas and lawns or play areas helps keep ticks away.

Be Extra Vigilant in Spring and Summer

  • ticks are most active during warmer months. Take extra precautions outdoors.

By properly removing ticks and taking steps to prevent bites, you can greatly reduce your chances of contracting Lyme disease or other tick-borne illnesses. Contact your doctor right away if you develop any symptoms after a tick bite. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to avoiding serious complications. Stay vigilant and be tick aware!

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