Tick-Talk: Safeguarding Your Health

Ticks, tiny arachnids found in grassy and wooded areas, are not just a nuisance but can also pose significant health risks. Tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease, can have serious consequences if left untreated. We want to equip you with the knowledge and strategies to prevent tick bites and effectively address tick-borne diseases. Let’s delve into the world of ticks, discuss common tick-borne illnesses, and provide valuable tips for prevention and treatment.

Tick-borne diseases are caused by various bacteria, viruses, or parasites transmitted through the bite of an infected tick. The most prevalent tick-borne illness is Lyme disease, but other notable ones include Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Babesiosis, and Anaplasmosis. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and may include fever, fatigue, joint pain, muscle aches, and rashes. Early detection and prompt treatment are crucial for successful management.

The most important aspect of these diseases is preventing tick bites.

  • Dress appropriately: When venturing into tick-prone areas, wear long sleeves, long pants, and closed-toe shoes. Tuck pants into socks and opt for light-colored clothing to spot ticks easily.
  • Use tick repellents: Apply Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, or permethrin on exposed skin and clothing. Follow the instructions carefully.  You can also try natural remedies containing various essential oils such as lemon, orange, cinnamon, lavender, peppermint and rose geranium.
  • Perform tick checks: After outdoor activities, thoroughly inspect your body and clothing for ticks. Know which ticks put you at risk. Pay close attention to hidden areas like the groin, armpits, and scalp. Use a lint roller on your arms and legs. Remember to check your pets too.
  • Modify your landscape: Keep grass and shrubs well-trimmed, create barriers like gravel or wood chips between lawns and wooded areas, and remove leaf litter to reduce tick habitats.
  • Check outdoor gear and pets: Examine camping and hiking equipment, as well as outdoor gear, for any hitchhiking ticks. Regularly inspect and use tick preventives for your pets.

If you find a tick attached to your skin, follow these steps for safe removal:

  • Use fine-tipped tweezers or a tick removal spoon: Grasp the tick close to the skin’s surface and pull upward with steady, even pressure. Avoid twisting or jerking, as this may cause the tick’s mouthparts to break off. Avoid squeezing the tick.
  • Clean the area: After removal, clean the bite site with soap and water or an antiseptic. Dispose of the tick by flushing it down the toilet or placing it in alcohol.
  • Monitor for symptoms: If you experience fever, rash, or any unusual symptoms after a tick bite, seek medical attention promptly. Inform your healthcare provider about the tick bite and any details you can provide about the incident.

Timely and appropriate treatment is essential to combat tick-borne diseases effectively.  If diagnosed early, antibiotics are typically prescribed to eliminate the infection. For severe cases or complications, additional treatments may be required. It is important to consult with your healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and tailored treatment plan.

For a useful infographic from the CDC, click Guidance After Tick Bite.

Ticks and tick-borne diseases are a reality and on the rise in New Hampshire, but with proper knowledge and preventive measures, you can reduce your risk and protect your health. By implementing the prevention strategies outlined above and seeking prompt medical attention if needed, you can stay ahead of tick-borne illnesses. Stay informed, take precautions, and enjoy the great outdoors with confidence.