Preventing, treating tick bites
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The best defense against Lyme disease and other tick-borne infections is reducing exposure to ticks, according to the CDC. There are several things you can do to prevent infection.
• Avoid direct contact with ticks by steering clear of wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter. Walk in the center of trails.
• When outdoors, use repellents containing 20 percent to 30 percent DEET on skin and clothing. Parents applying the product to their children should avoid the hands, eyes and mouth. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents with products containing 0.5 percent permethrin, which remains effective through several washings.
• Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming in from outdoors to wash off and easily locate ticks on your body. Conduct a full-body tick check upon return from tick-infested areas. Parents should check children under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair. Examine clothing, gear and pets after coming indoors as well.
• Proper landscaping can help create a tick-safe zone in your yard. Clear tall grasses and brush around your home and at the edge of lawns. Place a 3-foot wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas and around patios and play equipment to restrict tick migration. Mow your lawn frequently, keep leaves raked and remove old furniture or trash from the yard that may give ticks a place to hide.
REMOVING A TICK
If you locate a tick on your body or your pet’s body, remove it properly to minimize the risk of infection. Using a plain set of fine-tipped tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible and pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick.
Once it’s removed, clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water. Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag or container, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.
Avoid folklore remedies such as painting the tick with nail polish or using heat to detach the tick from your skin. The goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible; don’t wait for it to detach.
If you develop a rash or fever within several weeks of removing a tick, see a doctor immediately.
Source: Centers for Disease Control