Ticking time: how to protect yourself

July 1, 2011 2:53:53 PM PDT
Lyme disease is spread by deer ticks, and you don't want to have it, with its arthritis, nerve and potential heart problems. Rather than treat it after you get it, how about some tips to avoid getting a tick bite all summer long.

The ticks that spread Lyme disease are the size of the poppy seeds on a bagel, and while biting into a bagel is fun, it's not to have the ticks biting into you.

Lyme disease is out there and you have to take some simple precautions so you can enjoy the summertime and not have to worry about it," Peter Delucia from the Westchester County Health Department said.

It's in wooded areas where you're at greatest risk of a tick bite, so stay on well-cleared trials if you can. Ticks don't fly, but sit on this kind of high grass waiting for you to brush by. Also to take into concern is clothing.

"Is there a particular way to dress if you're going to be in the woods? Yes there is. First light colored trousers so you can see if there are any ticks on you," Delucia said.

What about hiking in deep woods?

"Take your socks and tuck your pants cuffs. What you're doing is creating a tick-proof barrier. You may get a ticket from the fashion police, but you're not going to get ticks crawling up your legs," Delucia adds.

The next barrier to ticks are tick repellants. This spray contains permathrin and is only for your clothes. Spray them in the yard, let them dry, then put them on.

Deet sprays such as these are for clothes or for the skin. Parents should put them on their children and use 10 percent deet or less.

Lastly, after you come home, buddy up and do a tick check on one another, and look for ticks attached at the hairline, in the groin, armpits and the belt area.

"Those are areas where the ticks can go, they're warm area, and the ticks can imbed themselves," Delucia said.

If you find one attached, use a fine tweezer at the mouth parts in the skin and tease or pull straight back.

Something to avoid when removing a tick. Don't squeeze with your fingers or with the tweezers on the body of the tick. It might squeeze Lyme disease germs into the bloodstream like a hypodermic needle.

Follow all these tips, and have a great tick-free summer.