Tick Prevention and First Aid

Practical Tips to Keep Ticks at Bay

For those who are wondering about ticks, here are some facts. They are actually related to arachnids – spiders. They have eight legs and can be as small as the head of a pin or a sesame seed. Most have round bodies with distinctive markings and small heads.

Ticks do not fly. While this is good news for those who don’t like insects, they still pose a problem. These pesky critters love to hang about in tall grass, on hanging branches, shrubs and other vegetation. When you walk by and brush low-hanging leaves, they simply move on over to you without the slightest interruption.

Now, for the tips:

* Stay on the path – Sticking to the asphalt roads and stone paths of trails can keep your contact with ticks to a minimum. If you must leave the trail, look for areas where the grass is not overgrown for your trek.

* Wear light-colored clothing – Since ticks are so small, they can disappear like a needle in a haystack. White, khaki, beige or pale colors can make seeing these small black dots a lot easier. Ticks are so tiny that they are rarely felt when they transfer to your clothing or skin. The best way to catch them is by visual inspection.

* Wear socks and close-toed shoes – Ticks can hide in places on your body that you don’t think to check regularly: between toes, on ankles, under arms and behind knees. Since it is the lower leg that mostly makes contact with grasses, white socks can keep them away from your feet and also stop them from slipping down into your shoes.

* Wear bug repellent – Ticks won’t want to stay long if you are protected with something that can kill them. Spray your clothing and exposed skin with a bug spray containing DEET. Test a small area of clothing first to be sure that it won’t stain before general application.

* Perform a comprehensive scan of your body – After being outside all day, check over your body as soon as you get inside. Use a mirror of the help of another person to be sure you have not missed any areas.

Tick First Aid

* Remove the tick – Be careful, though. You can break up the body if you try to remove the tick with your hands, leaving part of its body embedded in your skin. Use a pair of tweezers to grasp the tick at the head where the mouth is latching on to you. For an embedded tick, ringing the area with clear nail polish can help it to let go and fall off.

* Keep the tick – This may be helpful should your condition worsen after the bite. A doctor can identify the kind of tick that has bitten you to aid in treatment.

* Clean the area well – Once the tick is gone, clean the area. This can wash away any bacteria on the skin and also allow you to visualize the area better to look for signs of a problem.

* Call the doctor if you are concerned – One definite reason to call a doctor is if you are having trouble removing the tick. The longer you leave the tick in place, the more bacteria could be transmitted to your body. Also, once the tick is removed, watch the area carefully. If you notice a rash developing, seek medical treatment. Other signs that something might be wrong include stiff neck, fever, muscle aches, flu-like symptoms, inflammation and joint pain.

* Get emergency help – Immediate symptoms can warrant a call to emergency services. These include paralysis, problems breathing, chest pain or headaches that weren’t there before.