Lyme Disease Awareness Month brings warnings and tips to stave off ticks
May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month.
As ticks are known carriers of Lyme disease, tick bites can be debilitating with symptoms including fever, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, joint pain and, possibly, a bullseye rash.
If you are outdoors in southwestern Pennsylvania, taking the following precautions can prevent tick bites and Lyme Disease, according to LymeDisease.org:
Avoid tick habitat. Ticks tend to be near the ground, in leaf litter, grasses, bushes and fallen logs. High risk activities include playing in leaves, gathering firewood and leaning against tree trunks. When you hike, stay on cleared trails instead of walking across grassy fields.
Dress defensively. Wear shoes, socks, long pants and long sleeves. Tie back long hair and wear a hat. Light-colored clothing helps you spot ticks before they can cause trouble.
Purchase clothing pre-treated with the repellent permethrin at outdoor recreation stores. Or, purchase permethrin and spray clothing yourself. Be sure to treat both the inside and outside of clothes.
Spraying footwear with permethrin will prevent ticks from crawling up your shoes. In one study, those with treated shoes had 74% fewer tick bites than those with untreated shoes.
Use repellent on exposed skin. Studies show that repellents with DEET, picaridin or lemon eucalyptus oil are the most effective.
Check for ticks. When outdoors, periodically inspect your clothing and skin for ticks. Brush off those that aren’t attached and remove any that are.
Shower. Once home, take a shower right away. This will wash away unattached ticks and offer a good chance to thoroughly inspect yourself. Feel for bumps that might be embedded ticks. Pay careful attention to hidden places, including groin, armpits, back of knees, belly button and scalp. Parents should check their children.
Hot dryer. Run your clothes in a hot dryer for 10 minutes before you wash them to kill any ticks.
Protect your pets. Ticks can infect dogs and cats. Their fur can act like a “tick magnet,” carrying ticks inside your home. Consult with your veterinarian about tick-protection for your pets.
Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, [email protected] or via Twitter .