In recent years, there has been no shortage of talk regarding the danger of tick bites. Tick bite induced diseases, such as Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, have received no shortage of coverage in the media, as even some of Hollywood’s A-list celebrities have not been able to avoid falling ill to their effects.
What makes these diseases so worrisome is the fact that ticks are a pest that we all contend with from one year to the next, and these biting insects are something that cannot ever be fully avoided by anyone, much less the avid outdoorsman. As hunters, we all fall into a high risk category for exposure to the dangerous diseases that ticks carry, as well as the often long lasting effects that they render.
So what can we do to keep ourselves off the firing line and out of harm’s way? Do you know how to keep ticks off your body?
According to Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Biologist, Bill Lynch, our best recourse against the ever present threat of disease transmission from ticks is to minimize our exposure by remaining diligent in preventing their bite in the first place.
Although Lynch says that we cannot ever hope to fully eliminate all risks associated with being afield in the presence of ticks, by being proactive in protecting ourselves, we can lessen our chance of bites, and the potential of disease to follow. Lynch also shares words of wisdom regarding what any outdoorsman should do when attempting to remain tick-free.
A wide array of insect repellents exist on today’s market, and like most products, some are naturally more useful than others. Biologist Lynch, feels that the key to using insect repellant to ward off ticks, is to find a quality product, and to make sure that no portion of your gear or outer clothing goes untreated.
“Permethrin based sprays have become well known for their level of effectiveness when attempting to remain tick free,” said Lynch. “It is also important to spray the heck out of everything. If you don’t, ticks will still seek a path of entry through segments of clothing. Thoroughly spray your outer layer of clothing, as well as any gear that will be heading to the woods with you,” Lynch continued.
Tuck In All Exposed Clothing Entry Points
Mr. Lynch also states that one of the simplest things that any individual can do to keep ticks at bay, is to tuck in any exposed openings of clothing, whenever possible. In doing so, there are less entry points in which a tick can travel through to come into contact with skin surfaces. The more skin that is exposed to the open elements, the greater your risk of being bitten becomes.
“I always tell everyone to tuck in clothing whenever possible. This includes tucking pants legs into boots, and your shirt into the waist of your pants. If you are wearing gloves, sleeves can also be tucked underneath them as well,” said Lynch. “The less entry points that a tick has available to them to access you as a host, the less your chances of being bitten becomes,” he explained.
Immediately Wash Clothing Upon Returning Home
Another item of business that Lynch feels is important to tend to, is the immediate washing of clothing as soon as you return home from an outing. Washing and drying clothing not only removes any ticks that might be crawling within, but it also assists in minimizing the risk of exposing others in your home to their presence as well.
“I always make it a point to change out of my clothing that is worn outdoors upon arriving at home, and wash these items as soon as possible,” Lynch stated. “The biggest benefit that comes out of immediately washing your clothing is that it keeps ticks from finding new places to hide throughout your house, and biting anyone else in the household,” said Lynch.
Check Yourself Carefully
Despite our best efforts, ticks often find a way onto our clothing, and thereby take root wherever they can. It is of immense importance to check yourself carefully for ticks upon returning home, or changing clothing. In doing so, you are better able to rid yourself of any ticks that are yet to take hold, and to remove any ticks that have taken up residence.
“It is essential that you conduct a careful self-examination after being outside for any period of time in the warm weather months. Make sure that no visible area of your body goes unchecked,” Lynch explains.
He also suggests having someone assist you if necessary by saying, “If you cannot positively verify that you are free of ticks anywhere on your body, have someone assist you. Areas like your back, and the back of your arms and legs are often difficult to check by yourself, and the use of a second set of eyes can be helpful.”
In regards to the age old question of how best to remove ticks, biologist Lynch says that it is less about how you remove them, and more about doing so in a timely manner. To minimize exposure to possible toxins and disease, he recommends removing ticks immediately upon their discovery. Waiting while you consider the best route for removal accomplishes nothing.
“I have heard an endless number of theories about the best possible way to remove a tick throughout the years,” Lynch says. “No one certain way has really proven to have any benefits over the other. I tell people to just pull them off. No good comes from leaving them embedded for any longer than necessary,” Lynch emphasizes.
Mr. Lynch also urges those that do receive a bite to report any concerning symptoms to your doctor. “A number of diseases can come as the result of a tick bite, with Lyme Disease being perhaps the most well known. The location of a bite should be observed over the course of several days to ensure that no irregularities, such as rashes, become evident,” stated Lynch. “If at any time following a tick bite, prolonged periods of nausea or fever become evident, seek further evaluation from your healthcare provider,” urges Lynch.
How to Keep Ticks Off Your Body - Conclusion
What about you? Have you, or someone you know, struggled with the effects of a tick bite?
Comment below and let us know your experience with tick bites and the ugly impact they can have.
Best of luck as you stay safe – and tick free – this season.