How to protect your family from ticks that carry Lyme

How to protect your family from ticks that carry Lyme

According the CDC, 96% of Lyme disease cases in 2014 were reported from 14 states, including Maine. It is estimated that around 300,000 cases of Lyme are reported nationwide each year; this information alone is enough to scare the wits out of parents and pet owners. If you take simple precautions with these five tips then you can reduce your chance of being bitten or contracting Lyme disease.

Stay away from ticks

Seems simple enough, right? But here’s the thing, most people don’t know where ticks are to begin with. Ticks love dark and humid places where they can hang out in relative safety. Common places to find ticks include fields with tall grass where ticks can hide from sun, dank leafy piles, compost piles, and cool humid ground in the woods.

Sure, you can’t avoid the gorgeous Maine woods and you will likely encounter ticks in them. While at home you can take extra precautions to keep you and your family safe. Keep your lawn mown on a regular schedule to prevent tall grass. Don’t let leaf piles sit around. Rotate your compost piles regularly to keep the surface dry.

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Wear appropriate clothing

If you are heading out to the woods or to areas where you know the chances are pretty good of getting bit by a tick then wear light colored clothes, tuck your pants in to your socks, and avoid clothing with lots of pockets and pleats where ticks can get cozy.

When you are done with your outdoor adventure make sure to immediately remove all your clothes and – no matter how dirty they are – toss them into a clothes dryer, set to hot, and dry for 15 minutes to kill any hitch-hikers.

Make tick checks a daily routine

Ticks like to roam around before they bite. Most estimates put a window of 24 hours on the predictability of a potential Lyme scare so it is best to do tick checks daily. Look over your entire body, including your hairline on your head, and through hair on your body to make sure you are tick free. You should be able to give a thorough check in under 5 minutes.

If you do find a tick then pull it like this:

You can always use repellent

While it is never a great idea to douse yourself with harmful chemicals on a daily basis, you can safely use bug sprays if you are going camping or spending an extended period of time in areas where ticks are concern.

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The most trusted chemical combination that repels ticks is to use DEET spray on your body and Permethrin Tick Repellent on your clothes. You can find instructions here.

Ticks may be a frightening nuisance but they are also apart of living in Maine. By taking simple measures you can greatly reduce your chances of being bit. If a tick has bitten you and you are worried about potential Lyme then call your family doctor immediately.

For more information on the prevention and treatment of Lyme disease visit Maine Lyme or the Maine Division of Infectious Disease.

Enjoy the great Maine outdoors – and stay safe!

Sarah Cottrell

About Sarah Cottrell

Maine-based writer Sarah Cottrell is the voice behind Housewife Plus at the Bangor Daily News and is a regular contributor to Disney’s Babble and Momtastic. She is a co-author in six books including I Still Just Want To Pee Alone from the New York Times Bestselling series. Sarah’s work has also been highlighted and featured by SELF Magazine, National Public Radio, Washington Post, and VICE Tonic.