Physicians believe Lyme disease takes hold after a deer tick has been attached to your body for at least 24 hours -- so catching the culprit early can help you avoid the disease.
- Step 1: Wash the clothes you were wearing in hot water and dry them on high heat for one hour. Ticks can survive the washing machine, but the heat will kill them.
- Step 2: Once you're out of the shower, get dressed and -- if you have long hair and any doubt about your tick-finding abilities -- blow it dry with high heat.
- TIP: Don't put your clothes in a hamper or leave them lying around unwashed for too long -- ticks can spread to other people or articles of clothing.
- Step 3: Repeat the check the next morning. If you've missed one, it's most likely been feeding and is now engorged. This will make it easier to spot or feel.
- FACT: Ticks go through three life stages and need blood to get from one to the next -- male ticks are only infectious in the first two stages, while female ticks are infectious in all three.
- Step 4: Shower, making sure to shampoo your hair thoroughly, feeling as you do so for any ticks you might have missed.
- Step 5: Check your entire body again -- you may have combed a tick out of your hair onto your skin. This time, also run your fingers along your skin to feel for ticks since, if they were recently dislodged, they may be on the move.
- Step 6: Go inside, find a room with a full-length mirror, and remove all your clothes.
- Step 7: Carefully inspect every part of your body in the mirror. For hard-to-see areas, use a handheld mirror in combination with the full-length mirror.
- TIP: Pay close attention to your armpits, navel and groin area, and between your toes -- ticks thrive on humidity and gravitate toward warm, dark places.
- Step 8: Carefully check the nape of your neck and scalp. Feel around your scalp and examine it closely in the mirror; if you have long hair, carefully comb it out with a fine-toothed comb.
- Step 9: Brush your clothes off outside before entering the house. If you're with other friends and family members, help brush each other off.