In order to protect yourself from lyme disease, you must protect yourself from deer ticks.
Deer ticks are abundant in numbers from late spring, summer and throughout the fall. They enjoy cool, moist environments, like tall grass, wooded areas and piles of leaves.
A juvenile deer tick is called a nymph, these are seem more in late spring and summer. They are black and about the size of a poppy seed. Adult deer ticks are seen more in the fall and are about the size of a sesame seed. Adult females are more apt to be the ones found on humans. They are black toward the front and dull red toward the rear.
The fact is, no one knows for sure how long a deer tick has to be attached to the skin before you can be infected. Some say you can become infected immediately and others say the tick must be attached for at least 30 minutes.
In any case, you should prepare ahead of time, whenever possible, before enjoying the great outdoors and protect yourself as much as possible from contact with the ticks by pre-treating your clothes and uncovered skin with an insect repellent. Remember, chemical repellents can be toxic and you should only use the amount you need for the time you plan to be outdoors. If you take a pet out, you can protect him by using a treated collar or using a spot-treatment. Do not use these products on people, they are only for pets.
You can also protect yourself by wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts and a hat. This will give less access to your skin. For additional protection, you can also tuck your pants inside your socks to prevent then crawling up into your pants legs. Wearing light colored clothes will make the ticks easier to see.
Check yourself, your children, your partner and your pets for ticks after outdoor activities, you never know that one of these little insects has found you. Search everywhere on your body, especially in dark, warm areas like your armpits and groin area. Inspect your scalp, many times, they will attach themselves to your hair and crawl onto your scalp.
If you find an unattached tick, remove and dispose of it immediately.
If you find a tick that has attached to the skin, prompt removal may help reduce your risk of infection, but there very specific ways of removing it to prevent the tick from “latching on”. If removed incorrectly, the head of the tick may remain attached to your skin, and continue to release the toxins which cause lyme disease.
To safely remove a tick, you should use fine-tipped tweezers. Grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible and pull upward with steady, even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick, this may cause the head or mouth parts to become disconnected from the tick’s body. Do not squeeze, crush or puncture the tick, this may release the fluids which may contain infectious organisms.
After the tick is removed, clean the area with soap and water, then an antiseptic and wash your hands thoroughly. If you think you are getting sick or you see a bulls-eye-like rash, see your physician as soon as possible.
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