(NC) Picture this: you’ve just come home from an outdoor adventure, perhaps after fishing, or hiking through the forest with your pet, or camping with your family. You’ve finished unloading your gear and have settled in for a nice quiet evening. You notice a bump or freckle on your leg but think nothing of it – you’re sure it was there before. What you don’t realize about that small speck is that it is actually a tick that’s just hitched a ride into your habitat.
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you may be at a greater risk for tick bites – and certain ticks can cause Lyme disease. They’re very small, about the size of a poppy seed, and their bites are usually painless, so you may not know you have been bitten.
One of the easiest ways to protect yourself is to prevent tick bites when engaging in outdoor activities. Use insect repellent with DEET or Icaridin, wear closed-toe shoes, long-sleeved shirts and pants and wear light-coloured clothes to spot ticks easier.
Another way to protect yourself is to remove a tick from your body before it has a chance to transmit Lyme disease. Removing ticks within 24 to 36 hours usually prevents infection.
Ticks can attach anywhere, but they like certain spots. After you have been outdoors, make it a habit to ‘tick check’ these areas:
• inside and behind the ears
• along your hairline
• in your hair
• belly button
• groin area
• on your legs
• behind your knees
• between your toes
To help your tick check:
• Shower or bathe within two hours of being outdoors. This will wash away loose ticks and help you to find ticks that may be attached to you.
• Don’t forget to examine your kids, pets and even your gear. Ticks can enter your home on clothing and animals and attach to a person later.
• Put your clothes in the hot dryer to kill any remaining ticks. Give them a good wash and pop them in the dryer one final time.
Tip: Use a hand-held or full length mirror to check the back of your body or have someone else check it.
If you find an attached tick, carefully remove it with a pair of tweezers. Monitor your symptoms, and if you feel ill in the weeks after a tick bite, contact your doctor right away.
Next time you venture outdoors don’t forget to keep ‘tick checks’ at the top of your checklist.
More information on Lyme disease plus ways to protect yourself, your children and your pets, is available at Canada.ca/LymeDisease