Preventing Tick Bites
Ticks are arachnids like scorpions, spiders and mites. They’re most active in the warmer months of April until September but year-round vigilance is always recommended. While feeding, ticks can pass infections from one host to the next including humans. If you or your child is bitten by a tick, note the date and time when the tick was found and the area where the tick was most likely picked up. To prevent any secondary infections, we recommend you keep the bite area cleaned with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water. For the next three to four weeks you should be watchful for any developing rash (usually shaped like a bull’s eye, but any rash anywhere on your body should be noted) or if you experience fever or any other unexplained illness, consult with your physician immediately.
|The Vanderburgh County Health Department is not currently testing ticks for disease, however, you are welcome to bring ticks in for identification or you can refer to the CDC’s tick identification guide (located below). If you choose to bring a tick in for identification, please ensure the specimen is sealed in a clear, plastic container.|
|(From the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)|
What Diseases Are Ticks Known to Carry?
Avoid Direct Contact with Ticks
- Avoid wooded areas and fields where high grasses are located.
- If hiking, keep to the center of trails.
- If ticks are present in vegetation along the edge of your property, insecticides labeled for control of ticks can be applied to small areas of high weeds that cannot be mowed. Always follow directions when using pesticides.
- After being outside, check your pets thoroughly to ensure they do not carry any ticks into your home.
Repel Ticks with DEET or Permethrin
- Use repellents that contain 20% or more DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) on the exposed skin for protection that lasts up to several hours. Always follow product instructions. Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding hands, eyes, and mouth.
- Use products that contain permethrin on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and remains protective for up to 70 washings.
- Other repellents registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may be found at http://cfpub.epa.gov/oppref/insect/.
Find and Remove Ticks from Your Body
- Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
- Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.
- Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and day packs. Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks.
How to Properly Remove a Tick
If you find a tick attached to your skin, there’s no need to panic. There are several tick removal devices on the market, but a plain set of fine-tipped tweezers will remove a tick quite effectively.
- Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
- Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
- After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
Avoid folklore remedies such as “painting” the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible-not waiting for it to detach.