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Tips for Staying Tick Free This Summer

Deer ticks are tiny bugs that lurk in tall grasses, waiting for a human host. They carry various diseases that can be contracted by humans and pets, mainly dogs, so whether your summer is spent at home or at camp, here are some helpful tips to help you avoid those pesky ticks. The information may make your skin crawl, but it could save you time and worry.

The ticks most commonly known in rural New Jersey are ‘blacklegged deer ticks.’ They wait on the tips of the blades of grass for a host, and when one comes along, they quickly climb aboard. The good news is ticks can’t fly, so while hiking, wearing long pants is a simple and easy way to protect against ticks and the diseases they carry.

Lyme Disease

One of the most common diseases associated with deer ticks is Lyme Disease. As stated by doctors at Tenafly Pediatrics, lyme disease is an infection spread by deer ticks carrying the bacterium Borrlelia burgdorferi which causes a rash called erythema migrans. The rash is shaped like a bullseye and can expand up to 6 inches on the skin. If this rash goes unnoticed, several weeks to months later, other symptoms such as carditis, facial nerve palsy, meningitis and arthritis may begin to show. The doctors at Tenafly Pediatrics assure that regardless of when the infection is treated, antibiotics are curative.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diseases are spread when small amounts of saliva from the tick enter the skin of the host animal during the feeding process. If the tick contains a pathogen, the organism may be transmitted to the host in this way.

Prevention

One can protect oneself from ticks by using a repellent with 20 percent or more DEET. Always follow product instruction. Additionally, parents should apply repellents to their children, taking care to avoid application to hands, eyes and mouth.

Unfortunately, ticks can invade your skin from the comfort of your own yard. Performing “tick checks” nightly can be useful in preventing lyme disease. The places you should check for ticks are:

Under the arms

In and around the ears

Inside the belly button

Back of the knees

In and around all head and body hair

Between the legs

Around the waist

Oh No! I Found a Tick!

Do not panic. You can remove ticks easily at home with a pair of tweezers or a tick removal kit available at local stores. To transmit the disease, the tick must be attached to the skin for over 36 hours so there is no need to worry–if you remove the tick properly.

Tenafly Pediatrics doctors recommend the following:

1. Using blunt, angled forceps (splinter tweezers are pretty good too), grasp the tick by its head as close to the skin as possible. (Do not apply pressure or puncture the tick’s body. This could cause the tick to regurgitate material into the wound).

2. Apply slow and steady traction to the tick on a PERPENDICULAR axis from the skin. (Imagine taking an arrow out of the ground).

3. Inspect the skin for retained mouthparts and, if present, remove them.

4. Dispose of a live tick by submerging it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.

Additionally, strategies that attempt to suffocate the tick are not recommended. This includes applying things like petroleum jelly, gasoline, nail polish, and rubbing alcohol. Strategies that attempt to irritate a tick—such as using a match, hot nail, or knife—are also not recommended.

Follow these steps for tick prevention and your summer should be tick free. More information about ticks and lyme disease is available at cdc.gov.

By Amanda Leifer

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