Tick Safety…

I’ve been finding a common thread with going outside and hiking this summer: I or someone I’ve been hiking with has had some parasitic friends try extend our time together a lot longer than I’d like.  In otherwords, it’s tick season.  With a really warm winter and a their typical predators not being as common (I think these are big causes) I’ve never seen so many ticks.  With Lyme Disease being a very unpleasant possibility if you encounter a tick I really wanted to put up a warning and post about this.  I’m not recommending you stay inside, just take some precautions when you’re outside and when you’re done hiking to make sure you don’t bring home any new friends.  The Massachusetts State Website has a great section dealing with ticks at the following link.  Some notable reccomendations that I wholeheartedly endorse include the following tips:

  • Wear long pants when hiking in the woods.  Don’t make it any easier for ticks to get to your skin than necessary.  They further recommend wearing lighter colored pants so it’s easier to spot dark colored ticks.
  • Tuck the bottom of those pants into your socks so that there isn’t a direct access to your skin.
  • Wear and use a good bug spray that has DEET in it.  I carry a can in my car and in my hiking backpack whenever I go out.  I didn’t use it yesterday and had to remove a ton of ticks, plus it has the added bonus of keeping mosquitoes away too!!
  • Try to stay in the middle of a trail.  Ticks need to find a way to land on you and that is usually accomplished by brushing by a plant on the trail.  If  you aren’t brushing by plants all the time then they’re a lot less likely to land on you.
  • Check yourself for ticks after hiking, taking care to look for the rash that goes with a tick bite and also to check unexposed areas that are easier for a tick to hide in like your armpits, between your toes, behind your ears and other spots.

If you find a tick use a pair or tweezers or something similiar and grab it as close to the head as possible to pull it out.  If you’re worred about getting Lyme disease then save the tick and your state probably has a lab that can test for Lyme disease (I know Massachusetts does).  From what I’ve read if you catch the tick within 24 hours of it landing on you then your chances of getting Lyme Diseases are really, really low and you probably don’t need to worry.

If you want more information I’d recommend taking a look at the Massachusetts Department of Health’s tick website.  I strongly recommend making the time to get outside and hike but it seems like there are a lot more ticks this year so take some time during and after your hike to check for these miserable little creatures!!