By far, the best way to avoid Lyme disease is to be aware of the risk of tick bites and to act accordingly.
Follow these new guidelines for the removal of ticks. Deer ticks usually do not transmit Lyme bacteria until they have been attached for at least 24 hours and up to 48 hours for adult ticks.
The risk of being bitten by an infected deer tick is greatest in the summer months, but keep in mind that deer ticks may be active all year round, as long as the temperature is over 35°F. Make a habit of thoroughly checking yourself and others for ticks after outdoor activities.
New guidelines for tick removal:
Prompt removal of attached ticks is extremely important.
- If you find a tick on your body, remove it AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
- Use tweezers ONLY. Bent "needle nose" tweezers work best.
- DO NOT handle ticks with bare hands.
- DO NOT use nail polish, Vaseline, matches, or other methods as it may traumatize the tick and this may even increase the chances of the tick transmitting the disease.
- Grasp the tick with tweezers around its head, close to the skin. Pull it up and out slowly and firmly.
- Disinfect the bite site and apply an antiseptic ointment.
- Wash your hands and disinfect the tweezers.
- Save the live tick for identification, if needed, in a small container with alcohol.
Precautions to Avoid Tick Bites
Avoiding ticks outdoors
- Avoid tall grass and shrubby areas.
- Wear long pants tucked into socks.
- Wear light-colored clothing (to help locate ticks easily).
- Stay close to the center of hiking trails (avoid brushing against vegetation).
- Thin out low shrub vegetation in woods.
- Keep turf grass mowed.
- Remove brush piles (it serves as animal nesting sites).
- Ticks often attach in body folds, behind the neck and ears and in the hair. If possible, shower and wash clothes immediately. Heat drying is effective in killing ticks.
- Do a final, full-body tick-check at the end of the day (also check your pets).
- Use insect repellent containing DEET (Diethyl-meta-toluamide) on skin or clothing if you intend to go off-trail or into overgrown areas. Never use DEET in high concentrations; follow the manufacturer's directions closely. Reapply every 1 to 2 hours for maximum effectiveness. Although serious neurologic complications in children resulting from the frequent and excessive application of DEET-containing repellents have been reported, they are rare, and the risk is low when these compounds are used according to product label instructions according to the AAP. Therefore, DEET should be applied sparingly, according to product label instructions, only to exposed skin, and not to a child's face, hands, or skin that is irritated or abraded. After the child returns indoors, treated skin should be washed with soap and water. Concentrations of DEET greater than 30% usually are not necessary.
Know the Early Signs of Lyme Disease
Approximately 70% of Lyme disease sufferers will develop a rash within two days to four weeks. If you suspect Lyme disease, consult a physician immediately.
- "Bulls eye" rash
- Flu-like symptoms
- Swelling and pain in the joints
Ticks and Lyme Disease HOTLINE Number and Websites
Lyme Disease Foundation (24-hour hotline) 800-886-LYME
Lyme Disease Foundation
The Lyme Disease Network
American Lyme Disease Foundation
Center for Disease Control-Lyme
Picture of Ticks and Rashes
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
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