While tick exposure can happen at any time of year, the risk is greater during the warmer months (May - August) when ticks are the most active. If you live in the northeast region of the United States, the risk is even higher, as this area sees more ticks. It is important to take the necessary precautions both before and after going outdoors to protect yourself from tick-borne diseases. Below are some important tips from the CDC.
Before You Go Outside
Know where ticks hangout. Ticks live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas. They can even live on animals. Walking your dog outside, camping, gardening, or hunting could put you in close contact with ticks. Even simply relaxing or working in your backyard could put you at tisk as many people get ticks in their own yards.
Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered insect repellents. This search tool from the EPA can help you ind the product that best suits your needs. Always be sure to follow product instructions. Any products that contain OLE or PMD should not be used on children under 3 years old.
Avoid areas where ticks commonly live. When outside, avoid wooded or brushy areas that have high grass or leaf litter. When hiking or walking, do so in the center of trails where it is less wooded or covered.
After You Come Inside
Check your clothing for ticks. Ticks can easily be carried inside without your knowledge by clinging to your clothing. Examine your clothing before going inside and remove any ticks that are found. Tumble dry your clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes. The heat will kill any ticks that you may have missed on your clothes. If your clothes are damp, you may need additional time. If washing your clothes first, hot water is recommended. Any water that is cold or lukewarm will not kill ticks.
Examine gear and pets. Just like ticks can come inside on your clothing, they can do the same on pets or any gear that is brought in from outside. Once inside, they can later attach to a person. That being said, it is important to carefully examine your pets, coats, and any gear.
Shower as soon as possible after being outdoors. Showering within two hours of coming inside has been shown to lower your chances of getting Lyme disease and can be effective in reducing the risk of other tickborne diseases. Showering can help wash off any unattached ticks. It is also a good time to conduct a tick check on yourself.
Inspect your body for ticks. Conduct a full body check upon returning from being outside in potentially tick-infested areas, including your own backyard. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all areas of your body. When checking, pay close attention to these areas on your body: