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How to Protect Yourself from Ticks

Learn how to protect against ticks from Heather Menicucci, author of Let's Get Primitive: The Urban Girl's Guide to Camping, in this Howcast video.


Unlike bears and snakes, which you probably won't encounter on most of your camping trips, you will come across ticks. Ticks are a serious issue. They carry Lyme disease or they can carry Lyme disease so you want to be prepared for if you do get bitten by a tick and you also want to be prepared and take precautions to make sure you don't get bitten by a tick.

Ticks are spiders. They're not bugs. They're actually arachnids and they come in different sizes, or there are different-sized ticks. Deer ticks, which are the ones that can carry Lyme disease are actually usually the size of a pinhead or smaller, but ticks can be as big as a pencil eraser.

The biggest thing you can do to prevent getting bitten by a tick is to cover up. So if you're going to be hiking or walking in any kind of tall brush, you want to make sure you're wearing pants. You should tuck your pants into your socks. If you're wearing shorts and it's summer, I would definitely wear tall socks. That's the way that ticks usually hitch a ride.

From there, ticks are going to look for dark, warm places on your body. Ticks end up in your armpits. They end up on your scalp, under your hair, on your belly. They're looking for a safe, warm place to live so you really should do regular and frequent tick checks. Check all those places religiously. If you've gone for a hike, at the end of the day, just make sure you're doing frequent tick checks.

If you find a tick, if it hasn't bitten you yet, you can just pick it and flick it off. If it's bitten you, that's where you have to be really careful. Because if you did get the tick with a tweezer, which is one of the most popular ways to remove a tick, if you tear the tick or break its body, if it's carrying a disease, the disease can actually enter your bloodstream. So if you're going to use a tweezer to pull a tick out, you want to make sure you get the whole body and you grasp the tick and twist it, and pull it out.

If you get bitten by a tick, you're not really going to know, most likely, if it's carrying Lyme disease. If it's a small tick, I would definitely go visit my doctor when I got back from my trip. Just make sure and see if you can get tested for Lyme disease. Lyme disease usually can present itself with the bulls eye style rash, but a lot of times it doesn't.

So you might get some other symptoms, feeling like you've got the flu. But I would say, even if I'm not getting symptoms, if I was bitten by a tick, I'd definitely go visit my doctor when I got back from the trip. But the biggest things that you can do are just to try to avoid getting bitten by a tick. That's cover up, do tick checks, and also a lot of people don't like bug spray, particularly bug spray with Deet in it.

Deet is the most powerful ingredient that wards away ticks. So if you're concerned about ticks, I would definitely get a bug spray and I would get one with Deet.

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