Lyme Disease and Ticks
Lyme disease is transmitted through a bite from an infected tick and is commonly found in ticks in the Northeast region of the United States. It can produce a variety of symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, fatigue, and an erythema migran rash (often known as a “bull’s-eye rash” due to its appearance).
As Lyme disease progresses, it can cause other symptoms including facial palsy, arthritis, dizziness, and nerve pain. Early detection and treatment of lyme disease tends to be effective and can help in providing symptom relief.
A tick bite can occur any time of year, though ticks are more active during the months of April through September. Here are some things you can do to help prevent Lyme disease:
- If you are going to be spending time outdoors, particularly in wooded, grassy, or brush areas, use an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellent that contains either DEET, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), or 2-undecanone. Be sure to follow all the directions of the product you are using. Any repellents that contain OLE should not be used on children under 3 years of age. Permethrin can be used on clothing and other gear. Some stores (particularly sporting goods stores) sell clothing that has already been treated with permethrin.
- Cover up your skin when outdoors. Wear long pants, tuck your pants into your socks, and wear long sleeves.
- Ticks most commonly live in wooded areas, grassy areas, or on animals. If you will be spending time in wooded areas, such as going on a hike, stay on trail.
- Ticks can even be found in your own yard. To help keep ticks out of your yard, mow your lawn frequently, remove leaf litter, and clear any brush.
- Check your clothing and your entire body for ticks after you have been outdoors. Ticks can be the size of a poppy seed, which can make them difficult to spot. Wearing bright-colored clothes can help you spot ticks on your clothing more easily.
- Place your clothes in a hot dryer for 10 minutes to help get rid of ticks. When washing your clothes, use hot water.
- Shower after you’ve been outdoors, particularly within two hours of coming back inside.
- If you find a tick on you, remove the tick as soon as you find it. If it is not attached, you can use a tissue to carefully remove the tick. If the tick has bitten you, use tweezers to remove it. The longer a tick is attached, the more likely it could transmit Lyme disease or other tick-borne diseases. Use the tweezers to grab the tick close to the skin and pull it straight up. After removing the tick, clean the area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water. To dispose of the tick either submerge the tick in rubbing alcohol, place it in a sealed container or bag, wrap it tightly in tape, or flush it down the toilet.
- Check your pets for ticks and remove any ticks you find on them. Talk to your veterinarian about tick products that would be right to use on your pet.
- If you develop any symptoms or are concerned because you have been bitten by a tick, contact your health care provider.