82ºF

Medical expert advises tick avoidance in great outdoors

'You should just anticipate that they are everywhere'

photo

If spending time outdoors, there’s a good chance someone will be exposed to ticks and the diseases they carry -- like Lyme disease.

In fact, reports from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Health and Human Services show infected ticks are populating more areas across the country than ever before. 

“People believe that ticks can only be found in wooded areas, which is incorrect,” said Dr. Alan Taege, an infectious disease specialist at Cleveland Clinic. “We now can find ticks in our lawns; we can find them in wooded areas; we can find them in areas where weeds are growing -- you should just anticipate that they are everywhere.” 

Taege said prevention is key when it comes to avoiding a tick bite.

He recommends wearing light-colored clothing, which makes it easier to spot a tick if it’s made its way onto your clothes. 

Long-sleeved shirts and pants are preferred, and pant legs should be tucked into socks or boots to keep ticks away from the skin. 

Insect sprays containing DEET will also keep pesky ticks away. 

In addition, clothing and camping equipment can be sprayed with a chemical called permethrin to repel ticks.

And when you come indoors, Taege said it’s important to make sure ticks don’t hitch a ride into your home.  

“When you come inside, remove your clothing and throw them in the washing machine right away, and at that point, you should do a tick check,” Taege said.

Taege recommends checking the entire body for ticks once indoors, including ears, underarms, bellybutton and toes. And perhaps also enlist a loved one to check hard to see places like your hair and back.