Ticks: The Worst Thing About Spending Time Outdoors
By Sean Ferbrache, Chief Operating Officer AHLA
There isn’t much we don’t love about being outdoors and enjoying the benefits of an active lifestyle. However, if there is one negative that we all have to deal with it, let’s agree on the dreaded and disgusting tick. Unfortunately, the threat of acquiring Lyme disease can be very real and very dangerous.
Most dangers associated with the woods or water can be seen and then avoided accordingly. Not the tick. You can spray down with your favorite repellent and you can wear tight fitting cover-up style clothing, but none of that is a guarantee. In fact, you won’t even feel the bite of a tick due to a chemical found in their saliva that acts as an anesthesia. The only way to truly prevent taking a tick home with you is to do a quick but thorough search of your body before you enter your house. Any dark warm place should be checked including your hair, armpits, area behind the knee and between your legs.
If in fact you have given that little bugger a free ride out of the woods, don’t panic. According to WebMD it takes an adult tick up to an hour before it starts actively feeding. In most cases, ticks can be brushed off with a firm swiping motion. However, if it has started to feed and inserted its head into your skin it will need to be removed. Again…this is simple. No need to call 911 or administer last rites. (maybe to the tick!)
Simply use a pair of tweezers to gently squeeze the body of the tick and pull straight out and up. The tick will let go and you can then take your revenge by flushing it down the toilet. Do not use your fingers to pull it out, this may cause the tick to come apart and burst. This is the cause of infection spreading to you.
If you can still see a small piece of the tick inside your skin, don’t worry. Your body will heal just fine with that small piece intact. You are likely to do more damage to your skin by attempting to dig it out.
The best practice to avoid having to deal with these pests is a tiered approach. Kind of an all hands on deck if you will. Dressing with dark colored clothing that covers your arms and legs is a good first step. Second, use an approved over the counter tick and bug spray. Lastly, either check yourself or have someone else give you a quick check to make sure you have no uninvited guests hitching a free ride. It’s always a good idea to shower immediately upon returning home from the woods. Small baby ticks called nymphs are actually more dangerous than adult ticks and can be much harder to see.