How to Prevent Ticks

Tips to Avoid Bites and Infestation

How to Prevent Ticks

It’s tick season. As the weather warms up and you start spending more time outdoors, it’s important to protect yourself against bites. Ticks can transmit serious diseases like Tularemia and ehrlichiosis. The good news is there are many precautions you can take to prevent ticks from making you their next meal. When it comes down to it, you can rely on professional pest control too for proper removal and treatment.

Types of Ticks

Not all ticks are created equal. Here are some of the most common species you need to watch out for:

Soft Ticks

Soft ticks have a leathery, wrinkled appearance when not engorged with blood. They do not have a hardened scutum (shield) on their back like hard ticks.

NameDescription
Argasid TicksFound mainly in nests of birds and bats. Can transmit diseases like Tick Typhus.
Taiga TickParasitizes birds, rodents and pigs. Potential disease vector.

Hard Ticks

Hard ticks have a hardened scutum or shield at the back of their body once engorged with blood. This group includes most human-biting ticks.

NameDescription
Paralysis TickFound along Australia’s east coast. Saliva can cause tick paralysis in humans and animals.
Bush TickWidely distributed. Carries bacteria that causes Flinders Island Spotted Fever.
Scrub TickEast coast ranges. Bite can lead to rash and fever.
Cattle TickNorthern cattle areas. Spreads bovine babesiosis (tick fever).
Brown Dog TickWidespread across Australia. Carries Rickettsia bacteria.

So in summary, soft ticks have a wrinkled leathery appearance while hard ticks develop a hardened shield on their back when engorged with blood from the host. Hard ticks are responsible for most human diseases in Australia.

Can Ticks Cause Disease?

Absolutely. The mode of transmission is through infected saliva as they feed. Different ticks are health hazard in different ways. Lyme disease is the most well known, but there are many other concerning health issues.

DiseasePrimary Tick VectorSymptoms
Lyme DiseaseDeer tickRash, fever, joint pain
Rocky Mountain Spotted FeverDog tickRash, fever, nausea
EhrlichiosisLone star tickFever, muscle ache, nausea
TularemiaDog tickSkin ulcers, swollen glands
BabesiosisDeer tickFlu-like, potential liver damage

See a doctor immediately if you develop any of these symptoms after you get bit. Quick treatment is important.

Signs and Symptoms that Ticks Have Bitten You

Check your skin periodically after being outdoors and look for these signs of bites:

  • Small red bump or rash near the bite
  • A tick burrowed into your skin
  • Ring-shaped rash (could indicate Lyme disease)
  • Strong itch or irritation around the bite

Remove any embedded ticks promptly with tweezers. Then clean and disinfect the bite area thoroughly. Monitor for symptoms and schedule a doctor visit if they develop.

How to Avoid Contact with Ticks and Infested Areas

Avoid Tick Bites

When spending time outdoors, particularly in wooded or overgrown areas, take these precautions:

On Hiking Trails

  • Walk in the center of trails. Avoid brushing against vegetation.
  • Apply insect repellent to exposed skin and clothing
  • Wear long sleeves and trousers tucked into socks

Around Your Home

  • Keep grass mowed short around your yard
  • Remove leaf litter, clear tall weeds or brush
  • Place a barrier of wood chips that measures less than a meter between your lawn and woods/trees
  • Discourage rodents by removing wood piles and bird feeders

With Pets

  • Check dogs and cats for ticks after being outside
  • Ask your vet about tick prevention products
  • Keep dogs on trails and out of marshes or long grass

Avoiding tick habitats will reduce your risk of bites.

Wear Light Colored Clothing

Wearing clothes in light colors makes ticks easier to spot and remove before they bite you. The contrast with dark ticks allows you to see them on your clothes. You should also wear closed shoes. Tuck pants into socks and pull them over the cuffs for extra protection.

Check your clothes periodically for any ticks. Carefully remove them before they can attach to your skin.

Treat Clothing and Gear with Permethrin

Permethrin is a synthetic insecticide that repels and kills ticks and mosquitos.

  • Buy pretreated clothing and shoes or treat your own
  • Spray tent and outdoor gear thoroughly. Let dry.
  • Reapply every 4-6 weeks for continued protection
  • Do not apply directly to skin

Permethrin bonds tightly to fabrics and remains effective through multiple wash cycles. It helps discourage ticks from jumping onto you.

Examine Your Clothing for Ticks

After any time outdoors, carefully examine your clothes all over before going inside.

  • Look closely for any tiny dark specks moving on the fabric
  • Remove ticks promptly with tweezers and avoid crushing them
  • Don’t forget to check children’s and pet’s clothing too

Finding and detaching ticks before they reach your skin is ideal. It prevents bites and lowers health hazards.

Shower Soon After Being Outdoors

Showering after potential tick exposure helps find and wash off any unattached ticks. The sooner you find them, the lower your risk.

  • Check your whole body closely in the shower
  • Pay extra attention to warm areas like armpits, groin, and hair
  • Don’t forget to check children and pets who were outdoors
  • Thoroughly scrubbing can help remove ticks that are unattached

Showering is an easy additional line of defense against ticks.

Check Your Body for Ticks

Check for Ticks

Do full body checks regularly when exposed to potential tick habitats. Look carefully over all areas of your body.

  • Hair – Part hair carefully and check thoroughly along the scalp
  • Under arms – Lift arms & check armpit regions
  • Waist – Look under waistbands and belts
  • Legs – Check backs of knees, between toes, and ankles
  • Back – Have a partner check your back including waistline
  • Belly button – Carefully inspect around and under navel

Finding and removing ticks quickly can keep you from getting sick.

Use Insect Repellent

Insect repellents containing DEET or picaridin applied to exposed skin and clothing help prevent bites

  • Use 20-30% DEET or 20% Picaridin products
  • Apply repellent to clothes, arms, legs, socks, and shoes avoiding eyes, lips, and cuts.
  • Use 0.5% permethrin products on clothes but NOT skin.
  • Follow label precautions carefully especially for children.
  • Reapply frequently according to label directions.

DEET, picaridin, and permethrin repel ticks effectively when used properly.

Place Clothes in Hot Dryer for 20 Minutes

Placing clothes in a hot dryer for 20 minutes on high heat will kill any ticks present.

  • Dry clothes immediately after outdoor exposure
  • Check clothes thoroughly before drying
  • Tumbling and heat are lethal to ticks
  • Drying will not kill pathogens if bitten – see a doctor

This easy method helps provide additional protection against ticks making it into your home.

Other Helpful Tips

Some other useful precautions for avoiding ticks:

  • Keep long hair tied up or under a hat
  • Inspect children and pets carefully after being outdoors
  • Ask your doctor about vaccinations for flea-caused illness
  • Closely monitor for any rashes or flu-like symptoms after outdoor activity

Stay vigilant and take sensible precautions when enjoying the outdoors. Avoiding tick bites and promptly removing them reduces your chances of contracting a tick-borne illness.

Conclusion

Ticks pose significant health risks but some simple preventative measures can reduce your chances of being bitten. Be particularly cautious in wooded, brushy environments where ticks reside. Perform thorough checks after outdoor activity and quickly remove any attached ticks. Wear treated clothing, apply insect repellent, and shower soon after potential exposure. Stay alert for any signs and symptoms of a health problem and see a doctor if they develop. Taking sensible precautions allows you to fully enjoy the outdoors with greater peace of mind.