How to Protect Yourself from Tick Bites and Lyme Disease
If you’re an avid outdoors person, learn how to avoid tick bites or deal with a bite to protect yourself against Lyme disease.
When it comes to ticks, hunters are actually the hunted.
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Hunters, hikers and others who spend time outdoors in wooded or bushy areas and meadows may be at risk for tick bites. And those bites can lead to Lyme disease.
Ticks also like the transition areas between wooded and grassy areas, including lawns. The ticks climb up to the end of a grass leaf and wait for an animal or human host to walk by so that they can latch onto their foot or leg.
According to dermatologist John Anthony, MD, the most common first sign of the disease is a red rash spreading out from what feels or looks like an insect bite.
Some people with such rashes will end up having other types of insect bites, infections or inflammations. But Dr. Anthony cautions that a large, spreading rash is the first sign of Lyme disease in roughly three-quarters of patients.
Should you get a growing rash, see your doctor immediately, Dr. Anthony says. That way, the disease can be treated before it moves into the later, more serious stages that can lead to neurological damage and arthritis.
For outdoor enthusiasts who may be in tick-infested areas, Dr. Anthony recommends several steps to protect yourself:
If you do find a tick on your skin, the best way to remove it is to take a pair of fine tweezers, grasp the head part of the tick right at the surface of your skin, and slowly and steadily withdraw it with a constant motion. Do not turn, twist or try to crush it.
To be safe, keep a pair of tweezers in your first aid kit when you’re outside.
“Some people have recommended using lit cigarettes or Vaseline or other methods, but they are less effective than just manually removing the tick,” says Dr. Anthony.
“Studies show that you are more likely to increase expression of the tick’s saliva and the contents of their stomachs, which increases the chances of disease transmission,” he says.
Armed with these tips, hunters can enjoy doing what they like to do — with less worry about tick bites and Lyme disease.