Tips for Avoiding & Removing Ticks
It’s very common to find a tick on your body after a long day outdoors, especially when hiking, camping, and doing yard work are involved. Although ticks may seem like just another pest, it's very important to remove them properly and promptly to ensure that no unnecessary harm is done.
Why Are Ticks Considered Dangerous?
The deer tick (Ixodes scapularis) isn't just one of the more popular species of tick in the Lake George Region, it's also one of the more dangerous. Unlike other species, deer ticks are able to transmit the greatest number of diseases, the most well-known of which is a bacterial infection called Lyme disease.
Young deer ticks (nymphs) are typically the size of poppy seeds, and adults are only as large as sesame seeds. Despite their miniscule size, both nymphs and adults are capable of transmitting the disease after they become infected by feeding on animals that already have Lyme.
When And Where Are Ticks Most Commonly Found?
"Tick season" generally occurs from April through September, but depending on the previous winter's temperature fluctuations and snowfall levels, the tick season can vary.
Ticks are usually less active during colder months, but unless there are extended periods of freezing temperatures, ticks won't die off.
The most popular environments for ticks are areas with large amounts of brush, trees, shrubs, or tall grasses. Because ticks don't jump or drop from high branches, the most common ways they latch onto hosts are by crawling when direct contact is made or by climbing upward from the ground.
What Can I Do To Protect Myself From Ticks?
- Dress in clothing that completely covers your arms and legs when you're outdoors
- Light-colored clothing is the best for spotting dark ticks
- Wear closed-toe shoes and socks
- When you're in areas with brush or tall grasses, tuck in your shirt and pull the top of your socks over your pant cuffs
- Tie long hair into a ponytail
Be Aware Of Your Surroundings:
- Avoid areas where ticks are likely to be
- Only hike on well-traveled, cleared trails, and avoid brushing against vegetation on the side of the trail
- Maintain your yard, and keep your lawn trimmed short
- Don't sit directly on the ground or on decorative stone walls without first laying down a protective sheet
Thoroughly Check Yourself And Your Pets:
- You normally won't feel anything when a tick is crawling on your skin or has bitten you, so it's imperative that you check yourself and your pets whenever you come in from outside
- Pay extra attention to joints (behind the knees, elbows) and clothing borders (shirt sleeves, the tops of socks)
- Be sure to check your outdoor gear before bringing it inside
- Make sure you treat your pets with flea and tick preventative throughout tick season, if not for the entire year
What Do I Do If I Find A Tick?
Only infected ticks transmit diseases, but it is still crucial that you remove any tick you find as quickly and calmly as possible.
If the tick has not yet attached itself to your skin, protect your hand with a glove or plastic bag and pick the tick up. You should never grab a tick with your bare hands and never attempt to crush the tick. Seal the tick in the bag or in another container, or submerge it completely in rubbing alcohol. Afterward, thoroughly wash your hands and any skin that my have come in contact with the tick.
If the tick has attached itself, follow these steps to remove it using fine-tipped tweezers:
- The goal is to remove the entire tick at one time, so you should grasp the tick as close to the surface of the skin as possible
- Without jerking or twisting, pull straight upward on the tick using steady pressure
- Once the tick has been completely removed, seal it in a bag or completely submerge it in rubbing alcohol
- Use soap and water, rubbing alcohol, or an iodine scrub to clean the bite site
- Disinfect the tweezers and wash your hands thoroughly
*DO NOT attempt to burn a tick off your body or smother it with petroleum jelly. These methods can actually increase your likelihood of developing an infection because they may cause the tick to release infected fluid into your bloodstream.
Any tick bite has the possibility of transmitting infection, so if you experience symptoms - especially a rash or a fever - in the weeks after being bitten by a tick, you should visit a doctor.
- NYS Department of Health - https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/2825/
- Prevention - http://www.prevention.com/health/health-concerns/tick-myths-and-facts
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/removal/index.html