Depending on where and when you’re hiking, you could find disease-carrying ticks on your body, clothes or dog—especially in warm, heavily wooded areas. Here are five tips to reduce your chance of tick bites, and some bite treatment advice.
1. Wear the Right Clothing
Clothing is your best weapon against ticks. Wear long sleeves and pants instead of a tank and shorts. As an extra precaution, tuck your pants into your socks to make it even harder for ticks to access your skin. Protect your feet, ankles, and head by wearing a hat and proper shoes or boots—no sandals!
Donning light-colored clothing makes it easier to spot ticks that have jumped aboard. You may also consider investing in clothes pretreated with tick repellent.
2. Check Yourself
Most hikers know to always do a full body check after a hike, but few remember to do quick checks throughout a hike. Why? Because ticks typically spend a bit of time having a wander around your skin before they decide on a spot to bite. And it is much easier to remove a tick that hasn’t yet sunk its teeth sunk into you!
3. Stick to the Middle of the Trail
Instead of flying, ticks hang on grass blades and bushes just waiting to latch on to a passerby. This is why you should walk in the middle of the trail if you are hiking in a tick-ridden area.
4. No sitting on the Ground
Ticks also crawl on the ground, so avoid sitting directly on the ground. Instead, choose a bench or large rock.
5. Choose and Use a Repellent
Tick repellent tends to be very effective, though it’s worth researching which repellents have the best reviews. You can also use permethrin, as it has been found to reduce the chance of tick bites.
6. If You Discover a bite
If you get a tick bite, you’ve got to remove the tick. Start by wiping the area with an antiseptic solution, and then remove the tick using tweezers. Place each side of the tweezers on each side of the ticks head, and then pull the tick out. Don’t squish the tick or pull it sideways, as this can leave part of the tick still in your skin. If part of the tick is still attached, use a sterilized needle to remove the remains. When you are certain all tick bits are removed, clean the area again with an antiseptic solution.
Important! If you notice a rash or develop an itchy feeling near a tick bite, speak to a medical professional immediately. It’s possible the bite is infected or you may have contracted a tick-borne disease.