Warmer spring temperatures bring more than blossoming trees. It’s also a time when Lyme disease spikes, and each year, roughly 300,000 Americans are infected with the disease. Known for its characteristic bulls-eye rash, Lyme disease affects the central nervous system, causing you to feel tired, achy, and dizzy among other things.

Before you go hiking or camping, or enjoy other outdoor activities, make sure you know how to protect yourself. If you have Lyme disease, immediate treatment with antibiotics helps ensure a good outcome.

We’ve put together six tips to help you avoid tick bites and Lyme disease this season.

Tip #1 –  Perform tick checks

Ticks have a higher likelihood of spreading Lyme disease the longer they’re attached. Typically, a tick must be attached for 36-48 hours to transmit the bacteria. Even if you haven’t felt a bite or experienced any symptoms, it’s a good idea to perform daily tick checks when you come in from outdoors.

Because ticks are small, you should feel for them in addition to doing a visual inspection. Common sites of tick bites include the arms, legs, behind the knee and the armpit. A simple way to incorporate tick checks into your routine is to check when you shower.

Tip #2 – Use insect repellent

DEET-based spray provides strong protection against ticks. DEET works on your skin and kills ticks before they have a chance to attach. Ticks typically crawl up from below the knee, so it’s important to use a repellent that will kill them on contact. Before you head into an area where ticks might live, apply repellent to exposed skin.

Tip #3 – Wear protective clothing

Your clothing provides a barrier that can protect you against tick bites. When you venture into grassy or wooded areas, you can reduce your risk of tick bites by wearing long sleeves, and donning long pants instead of shorts. Tucking helps, too, so tuck in your shirt and tuck your pants into your socks. Before putting your clothes on, treat them with insect repellent made for clothing.

Tip #4 – Create a barrier

If you live in a tick-heavy area, you could spend a short time on your deck without touching any vegetation and still find a tick crawling up your leg. The best way to protect yourself is to create a safe zone by making the landscape of your home unsuitable to ticks. They thrive in brush and tall grass, so remove leaves and mow your lawn regularly. If your home is near a wooded area, use gravel to create a barrier. You can also use a natural repellent in the yard to maximize your protection.

Tip #5 – Check pets

If you take pets outdoors, it’s important to check them for ticks. Ticks can hitch a ride on your pet, drop off at any point and crawl onto you, biting your skin and transmitting Lyme disease. Brush your fingers through your pet’s fur with enough pressure to feel a bump. If you feel a bump, pull the hair back to examine it further. Be sure to check your pet’s paws.

Tip #6 – Remove ticks properly if found

The longer a tick remains attached, the higher the chances of transmitting Lyme disease. If you find a tick, removing it promptly reduces the chances of infection. Use tweezers to grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible and pull it straight out with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist it as you pull. It’s also important that you avoid squeezing the tick, since its bodily fluids may contain Lyme-causing bacteria. After removing the tick, clean the area thoroughly and call Dr. Choudhary.

If you’ve been exposed to ticks, or have symptoms of Lyme disease, call our office or book online to make an appointment with Dr. Choudhary.

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