SURVIVOR SERIES: SURVIVING TICK SEASON
With summer comes the opportunity to spend more time outside and in nature. I am outside more than I am inside in the summer, as are many other people. College kids are especially eager to get outside because we have been cooped up inside studying for 4 months. What most of us don’t realize is that we are never alone while hiking in the woods or relaxing by the lake.
We are always surrounded by evil, disease-ridden bugs called ticks. If you have ever had a tick bite, you know it is itchy, disturbing, and terrifying. This thing (which is basically a fat, blood-sucking spider) is UNDER YOUR SKIN sucking your blood and infecting you with horrible diseases. This summer’s tick season is going to last longer and ticks are carrying more scary diseases.
Tick bites can now cause anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, rickettsiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Southern tick-associated rash illness, and tularemia.
- Cover your skin. Ticks are attracted to bodies with more exposed skin. I know summer is hot, but wearing long pants, sneakers, and long sleeved shirts while outdoors, is super protective. Especially when you are in or near a wooded area it is good to wear, light, breezy, light-colored clothing that covers most of your skin. Light-colored clothing will even help you spot a tick if it is crawling on you so you can murder it before it burrows into your skin. Pro tip: Tucking your pants into your socks is an easy, fashionable way to be even more protected.
- Stay on the trail. If you are in a wooded area- stay on the marked trail. Ticks leap onto you off of trees and other plants. Steer clear of thickly wooded areas to reduce your chances of a tick bite.
- Use bug spray. Using insect repellants that contain 20 percent or more DEET on exposed skin and permethrin on clothing is a quick, easy tick-prevention method. Remember that permethrin should not be used directly on the skin. Also, if you are spraying children avoid their hands because deet is toxic and kids love slobbering on their hands. There are also products available for pets!
- Check yourself. Inspect any children, pets, clothing, and outdoor gear, such as backpacks, for ticks. After examining all of your stuff, you should bathe within two hours of coming inside. After showering, conduct a full-body check with a mirror, including your hair and scalp.
- Remove a tick as soon as you see it. If you are unlucky enough to have found a tick feeding on you, get it off ASAP. Ticks can only be on you for 72 hours before spreading disease. The bigger the tick, the more likely you are of contracting a disease from it. There are tick-removal devices that you can buy in most stores, or you can use tweezers. Just make sure that no part of the nasty thing is left behind because they can regrow body parts if a part of them is left under your skin.
- Go to the doctor. If you think a tick was on you for any more than a day or two, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor. Most diseases can be treated if they are caught early enough.
Check out this article to find out the best way to remove a tick, the symptoms of a tick-borne disease, and the science behind how the diseases are spread: http://alabamaliving.coop/article/tick-season-is-here-your-best-defense-is-to-avoid-tick-bites/
Written by Sarah Pasquarelli, Peer Educator
Photo Cred: Ticks