Getting bitten by a tick can be very dangerous. Tick bites can cause an infection, which can lead to the chronic condition of Lyme disease, not to mention a whole host of co-infections; ticks can carry over 500 (known) bacteria types in their guts, so they are one insect that should be avoided if at all possible. There are some activities that are more likely to lead to tick bites. Here’s a list of instances where you should be even more cautious of ticks.
Walking near forest areas
Ticks can be present in a variety of places in nature but are most often found in forest areas and near long grass. Overgrown woodland is also a common home to ticks. If you spend time walking around these types of areas, be sure to stick to trails or paths as much as possible. Straying into undergrowth or grassy areas can increase your chances of getting bitten by a tick.
Hiking or running
If you want to go for a hike or a run, it’s safer to stick to paths that don’t go into grassy areas or into the forest. Being off the beaten path can mean that you’re at a higher risk of tick bites. If you’d still like to run or hike in nature, consider spraying insect repellent, such as DEET, on your body. You can spray it on, let it dry, and then reapply every two to three hours in warm weather. There’s also permethrin that can be applied directly to your clothes to repel ticks. Additionally, any type of exercise outside should be done with clothing that covers your body (long-sleeved shirts and trousers) to prevent ticks from having access to your skin.
Mountaineering or rock climbing
Mountaineering and rock climbing are two other outdoor activities that can lead to tick bites. There might be parts of the course that are near woodland or tree branches, and these places should be avoided if possible. Also, ticks often thrive in damp and humid environments, so be aware of places like wooded areas. Being near animals (such as deer) can also be dangerous if they’re a carrier for ticks.
Orienteering is a sport of navigation through unfamiliar terrain. Players use a map and compass to find their way to different checkpoints – the winner is whoever can complete the competition in the least amount of time. It’s a fun activity, but if the course takes place in wooded areas or near long grass, players might come across ticks. If it’s not possible to avoid these danger areas, then it’s imperative that you check for ticks as soon as you get home.
If your garden is not separated from woodland areas, it’s likely ticks could make their way onto your property. Consider constructing a tick barrier, which is a strip of wood chips or bark placed between your garden and brush or long grass, that discourages ticks from entering your garden. When gardening, try wearing long gloves and long-sleeved shirts, as well as long trousers and closed-toe shoes to protect yourself from ticks.
Heading out into the great outdoors can be fun, but it can also put you at risk of getting bitten by a tick. To avoid ticks, try camping in open areas that are far from brush or fallen logs. Woodpiles are also breeding grounds for ticks. If you can camp out in a clearing, you’re less likely to get bitten.
Any time you’re out in nature, you should check for tick bites when you get home. To do that, you can start by visually looking for ticks on your body. Use a magnifying glass if you have one – ticks can be tiny, pinpoint-size specks. After you’ve searched for any ticks, you should physically examine your body to feel around for any ticks that might be embedded in your skin. Don’t forget to inspect places that you can’t see, such as behind your knees or on your scalp. Ticks also tend to attach in the armpit, navel, groin, and buttocks. After you’ve examined yourself, try taking a shower to help wash away any unattached ticks.
If you do get a tick bite, you can try removing it yourself with tweezers or a tick removal kit. Make sure to grab the tick between the head and the skin and firmly pull away. Then apply rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to clean your skin. If you’re concerned that the tick might be a carrier for Lyme disease, you can send the tick directly to a lab, such as the BCA-lab, for testing. It’s also a good idea to follow up with your doctor if you think you were bitten by a tick so they can take any necessary precautions. Plus, if you have questions, there are lots of resources available on the BCA-clinic website.
Be aware that any outside activities can put you at risk for tick bites. Try to stay as covered up as possible, use insect repellent, and carry out thorough checks for ticks when you come back inside. By taking these precautions, you’ll be able to enjoy your favourite activities without having to worry about contracting Lyme disease.