Call Us: 201.303.0534

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Call Us: 201.303.0534

Email Us: info@wellwellusa.com

Get Ticked Off, Literally

Keep These Infectious Bugs at Bay

tips for avoiding ticks

The Skinny:

Ticks are nasty little buggers that most folks know can transmit Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. What’s less realized is that they’re also responsible for nasty things like anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, Powassan virus disease, borrelia miyamotoi disease, southern tick-associated rash illness, tick-borne relapsing fever and tularemia. With summer now at hand, chances are these largely unseen vampire bugs are lurking all around most people, waiting to take a bite and possibly leave an infection. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates about 50,000 Americans annually are infected by ticks. It’s important to learn how to avoid them and WellWell is here to provide some tips.

The Slate:

Yard Hygiene

The CDC provides these tips for banishing ticks:  Mow and rake lawns frequently. Cut tall grasses and brush away from the edges of well-traveled areas. Place a three-foot-wide barrier of wood chips or gravel around patios and play equipment. Stack wood neatly and in a dry area, and get rid of old furniture, mattresses or trash in which ticks can hide.

Chemical Warfare

Scientists are still unsure whether things like DEET, Picardan and IR3535 repel ticks by disrupting their prey-location systems or simply because they stink. But they do work. However, watch the dosage. The Class 3 (“slightly hazardous”) pesticides could irritate mucous membranes or have neurological effects. This is another downside to this approach. The pesticides affecting ticks also harm beneficial pollinators. Some tick-repelling essential oils (e.g., clove, patchouli, peppermint, geranium, eucalyptus, lavender, cedarwood, citronella and lemon grass oil) are bee-friendly but don’t work as well and require frequent reapplication.

Flower Power

Plants that repel ticks range from Lavender, geranium, marigold and chrysanthemum while adding fragrance and color.  Herbs like rosemary, mint and lemongrass can also repel ticks. Garlic thwarts not only vampires but ticks as well along with ominously named rue and wormwood.

Protective Clothing

Conventional wisdom dictates tucking long pants into boots, tucking in shirttails, buttoning up the cuffs of long shirt sleeves and wearing a neckerchief and hat. This wisdom is right on the mark. One study found that hiking was five times more effective than sneakers at repelling ticks, although different types may vary in their protective ability. Clothing color may also affect tick attraction and detection, but more research is needed to substantiate their impact.

Checking for Ticks

Brad Paisley’s song suggested “I’d like to check you for ticks” as the perfect end to a romantic, moonlit country walk. Romance aside, Brad is on to something here. Ticks can’t bite through clothing, but they can sneak in through gaps and then migrate upwards, favoring warm, dark and damp areas. Look under the arms, behind the knees, between legs, and in the belly button, ears and hair. For those lacking a helpful buddy, the IS Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service recommends using a mirror to check in those hard-to-spot places.

Protecting Pets and Gear

Ticks not only love attaching to people, but they can hitchhike home hiding on pets or camping gear. Ready-to-wear permethrin-treated clothing repels ticks and do-it-yourself permethrin sprays are available for clothing and camping gear. Tumbling dry clothing for 10 minutes or washing in hot (at least 130°F or 54°C) water will put the little biters out of business. A daily check of outdoor pets’ fur is advisable, and veterinarians can recommend preventative medications.

Found One?

Don’t panic. The risk of infection is actually low. Ticks don’t generally attach immediately. Beyond this, 36 to 48 hours of feeding are needed for Lyme Disease transmission. If one is spotted, remove the tick using tweezers, then bathe or shower, in case there are more. If it was attached, save it in alcohol or a zip-lock bag to show to a doctor. One preventative doxycycline injection can help avoid a longer course of antibiotics later.

Eyes Up:

Do you have a tick-guard tip? Let us know at info@wellwellusa.com.


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