How to Prevent Lyme Disease
By : Rita Stadler
Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria borrelia burgdorferi which is transmitted by ticks. Not all ticks have this bacteria, but the Blacklegged tick is known to transmit it to humans. Blacklegged ticks can be found in most states.
It’s an inflammatory disease and symptoms include a rash shaped like a bull’s-eye, migraines, fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes and muscle soreness. If Lyme disease goes untreated, one runs the risk of developing neurological disorders. Lyme disease affects more than 30,000 Americans annually. Ticks need hosts to feed on, so their survival depends on seeking a warm-blooded host.
Thankfully, there are many easy ways to prevent a tick from making your body its feeding spot. The best way to prevent Lyme disease is by preventing ticks:
1. Dress for cloudy with a chance of ticks — long sleeves & socks are a good idea!
When trekking outdoors on a hike — or any outdoor adventure for that matter — wearing fitted clothing that exposes minimal skin is a good idea. Tuck your pants into your socks and tie your hair back to prevent ticks from catching a ride. Light colored clothing will also help you spot a tick if it lands on you.
Ticks wait for future hosts by crouching on leaves or branches with their front legs in the air, just waiting for the chance to grab onto something. You give them more opportunities by wearing loose clothing that exposes your skin.
2. Use a good quality tick repellent like Stay Away Mosquitoes
Stay Away Mosquitoes contains picaridin; a compound that mimics the scent of the black pepper plant which is known to naturally repel ticks and mosquitoes. Picaridin both repels AND deters ticks and other insects. These pests are repelled by the scent and will physically move away when encountered with it. It blocks some insects from being able to sense their prey and they will refuse to feed if they encounter skin or clothing with picaridin on it.
3. Avoid tick infested areas
Researching campsites and hiking trails prior to hitting the great outdoors is an easy way to prevent Lyme disease. The CDC has maps that show locations of ticks by state along with what diseases they carry. The CDC also has a map that outlines the reported cases of Lyme disease by location. Obviously one should take extra precaution in states with high reported cases of the disease.
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4. Check your body after you spend time outside
Doing a quick body check for ticks when you get home from the outdoors is always a good idea. Ticks like to feed in moist, warm areas on the body. Places like behind your knees, in the armpits, groin area or scalp are prime real estate for these hungry pests.
Ticks actually have natural painkillers in their saliva which means you can’t feel them bite into your skin. This is why checking your body after spending time outside is very important.
5. “Help! I found a tick!”
If you do find a tick on your body, the CDC has some tips on how to safely and quickly remove it. Contracting the Lyme disease bacteria from a tick takes time, so if the tick is removed quickly the risk may be reduced. And remember, not all ticks have this bacteria, so just because a tick bit you, does not mean you 100% have Lyme disease. So don’t panic. Review the symptoms for Lyme disease and keep them in mind if you’ve been bitten. If you present any of the symptoms, seek medical help as soon as possible.
Learn more about ticks, their life cycle and the phenomenon behind why Lyme disease is spreading more rapidly by reading our blog “Tick prevention and Lyme disease symptoms“. And don’t forget to pick up a bottle of our Stay Away Mosquitoes; tick and mosquito repellent. You can visit our store locator to find it at a retailer near you.