Ticks on humans are not a problem - unless the tick is infected with a disease that can be transmitted to us. Here's how to avoid, recognize and remove ticks.
Ticks tend to hang out in the areas where we like to go hiking and camping.
Some ticks can transmit disease. The best known of these is Lyme disease, but there are at least ten others.
There are hundreds of species of ticks in the world. Many are completely harmless.
Ticks on humans don't often hurt. You can be bitten by a tick and not even know it.
Ticks bite in order to eat - but they don't eat much.
Infection rates vary from place to place. In some locations, most of the ticks are infected. In others, very few carry infection.
Tick-borne diseases are not instantly transmitted.
Lyme disease, for instance, generally isn't passed on to a human host until the tick has been latched on to the human's skin for a day or two.
Treatment is most successful when it is begun immediately.
These are the diseases that are currently known to be carried and transmitted by ticks:
Since all of these are hard to diagnose and some are even harder to treat, the best strategy is to avoid being bitten by ticks in the first place.
Do some research about the area where you plan to camp and hike.
If you choose an area where infected ticks are known to hang out, take the following precautions:
Wear long sleeves and pants. Tuck your pants into your socks.
Or put rubber bands around your ankles to cinch your your pant legs in tight. You might want to go even further and fasten your pants to your socks with duct tape.
Tuck your shirt into your pants.
Wear a hat with an attached bandanna that covers your neck.
This won't deter ticks, but it will make it easier for you to see and remove them.
This is where ticks typically hang out. When hiking, stay to the middle of the trail.
Health officials recommend that you use an insect repellent containing DEET to repel ticks.
You'll have to decide whether the risks of using DEET outweigh the risks of being bitten by a tick.
If you do use DEET, be sure to follow the directions on the package. Don't get the repellent in your eyes, nose or mouth.
These outfits are light and comfortable and provide a barrier to keep ticks away. They also deter bees, wasps and mosquitoes!
Even if you take every precaution, a tick may still find you and attach itself to you.
Ticks on humans tend to crawl around for awhile before they settle down for a snack, so if you check regularly, you have a good chance of finding and removing them before they start munching you.
If you are out for the whole day, check numerous times during the day - every time you sit down for a rest or a snack.
Check all exposed skin. Look especially closely at these areas of the body:
A tick that has had a good feed of your blood will be easiest to find. It will be engorged, blue-gray in color, and as large as a watermelon seed.
A tick that hasn't begun to feed may be as small as a sesame seed - or even smaller!
If you find one tick, don't stop looking! There may be more.
If you find a tick, you may be tempted to grab it and tear it off. Don't! Read this to learn how to remove ticks on humans safely and effectively.
If you are bitten by a tick that doesn't carry disease, you will probably have no symptoms at all. In fact, you probably won't feel the bite and might never know that you have been bitten!
Ticks on humans cause symptoms only if the ticks are infected. If the tick was infected with the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, for example, you may notice the following symptoms:
You'll notice that this looks very much like a list of flu symptoms. You might just assume that you have the flu.
If you have been in an area where Lyme disease is common, see your doctor promptly. Lyme disease is very treatable in the early stages.
Even if you don't seek treatment, the rash will go away in about a month, giving you the false sense that all is well - but the bacteria is still spreading through the body.
Ticks on humans can cause serious problems. By knowing how to avoid, detect and remove ticks, you can lessen your chances of contracting a tick-borne disease.