Lately, I am not able to go a day without seeing a warning about ticks. Living in Western New York, it is certainly something we need to be conscious of, and take precautions to prevent them.
Despite the constant chatter around ticks, there is still a lot of questions and misinformation out there. SO, I went ahead and compiled some important information, that everyone should know!
The Basics of Ticks:
Ticks are very small (Think 2MM) “bugs.” The latch on to you or animals, and feed by drinking your blood. Much like a mosquito. However, these animals are dangerous, because they are known to carry Lyme Disease. (Fact! Only BlackedLegged Ticks Carry and can transmit Lyme Disease!)
With proper, care, prevention, and action you can protect yourself from contracting Lyme disease, even if a tick has latched onto you.
Important! It takes between 24 – 48 hours for a tick to transmit Lyme disease. If you catch and remove them before that time frame, your risk/fear goes along with the little bugger!
How / where do you get ticks?
They are the most common to get them in the woods. BUT if you are in a grassy area that is not too far from the “woods” you are at risk. Outdoor animals (Dogs, Cats) are at high risk, also. Animals can also become sick, if the ticks are not removed – you are also at greater risk for the tick to transfer to you, from your pet!
How to Prevent Getting a Tick(s):
There are a few options that decrease your risk, but none of them are guaranteed. It is imperative, that you keep reading to learn what you need to do if you find a tick on yourself! Here are some precautions you can take to prevent ticks:
- Wear high socks, and pants when walking in the woods.
- Use tick repellent spray (Like Off). To prevent tick bites, the spray must contain at least 20% DEET. *Yeah I know, not so awesome!, but it is a lot better than getting sick from a tick bite* Check out the next option!
- If you are completely against, spraying chemicals all over yourself and your kiddos, and refuse to use products with DEET, check out this all natural essential oil spray! (Reach out to Emily, and ask her for the Terrashield Spray!!!)
- Personally, I like to use a combination. I spray my hiking boots and my kid’s boots with the chemical (contains deet) spray. While the essential oil spray goes on their legs, back of their neck and scalp. *This year, with how rampant the tick population is, we are using the DEET spray, all over.*
- If you want longer lasting options for gear (Boots, hiking equipment) use a product that has 0.5% permethrin. You can grab a spray right HERE.
- Animals should be treated with a flea and tick medicine (Like Frontline Advantage), to help prevent them.
You found a tick on you. Now what?!
Don’t panic. I know way easier said than done – especially if you find the tick on your child. You have TWO and only TWO options to remove the tick safely. Seriously! DO NOT listen to the old school methods that talk about: Covering a tick with petroleum jelly to smother it out. Do not pour peppermint oil on the tick, do not use a hot matchstick. DO NOT. Every single one of those methods causes the tick to panic for its life, and go into self-preservation mode. Its first line of defense is to regurgitate (puke) its guts into your bloodstream. This can make you very sick!
Option 1: Use a pair of the finest point tweezers that you have, and get under the tick – AND as close to the skin as possible. Squeeze the ticks head, and pull it straight up, and out of the skin.
IF – the ticks head stays in the skin (Hopefully Not) again don’t panic, since you got the body of the tick out. Just treat the head like a sliver, and dig it out.
Option 2: This is my preferred method. I use these Tick Twisters. We own a handful of them. They are kept in the RV, in the house, in the car, and in my purse. Seriously. The sooner you are able to spot and remove a tick, the better, and since we live in New York, where they are spreading like wild fire, I don’t take any chances.
Here is a video of how the Tick Twister Works. I grabbed ours off of Amazon, right here.
After the Tick Removal.
Once you remove a tick, you do want to make sure you clean the area very well. Use rubbing alcohol, and or some anti-bacterial soap.
To Keep or flush the Tick?
I know it sounds gross, but I keep the dead tick in a Ziploc baggie, for a few months. I label the outside of the bag with who the tick was on, and where it had attached to. I am not sure if “testing” a tick is possible or helpful or useful for medical professionals, in-case one of us comes down with any illnesses, but for now, it makes me feel better.
You can not be loco like me, and just flush the tick down the toilet, or put it into a Ziploc bag and throw it in the trash.
Additional Important Information!
- It is important to bathe as soon as you can after spending time outdoors, like hiking or camping, or really just having your kids playing at the park.
- Do DAILY self-checks, and also check your kids!!! <— Single most important thing you can do!
- Pay close attention to areas that tend to be “warmer” like: Armpits, back of the knees, scalp, and the groin area.
- Pay extra attention to the scalp, since they really like that area and they are harder to spot!
- Don’t forget to check your pets, and often. They can carry ticks around – and spread them to you and your family. That is why daily checks are so important, even if you have not spent time outside – but your pets have!