As the temperature heats up and tick season descends, many people are wondering how best to avoid being bitten by these small but dangerous insects. They are known carriers of a host of diseases, many of which can be passed on to humans through the bloodstream. The most notorious of these contagious conditions is undoubtedly Lyme Disease, a sinister, dangerous and somewhat misunderstood disorder that infects hundreds of thousands of people across the world every year. If left unchecked, Lyme can be extremely debilitating, and becomes much harder to treat in its later stages as it entrenches itself further and further in the sufferer’s system.
At Make Well, we aim to ease the suffering of Lyme patients. Through continued study and understanding of the disorder, we’ve produced a diverse range of effective products that can help reduce the many varied symptoms. But infection starts at the source; when it comes to preventing and treating Lyme, the best method is avoiding being bitten by a tick, and if you are bitten and recognise symptoms, seek treatment immediately.
The disease is caused by the Borrelia genus of bacteria, carried by the black-legged tick, or deer tick in the U.S., and the sheep tick or castor bean tick in Europe. The insect must be attached to the skin and feeding actively on the blood. Being aware of what kind of activities and locations result in tick bites can help you stay safe from this debilitating disorder, as you can take precautions before and check thoroughly afterwards. With that in mind, here are five ways you can easily get bitten by a tick.
1 – Long Grass
Ticks often reside in long grass; walking through this type of terrain can easily result in a tick bite. Ticks cannot fly or jump, but once they find a suitable piece of grass, they assume a position known as ‘questing’, which involves holding on to the grass with their third and fourth legs, leaving their front two outstretched, waiting to catch hold of an unsuspecting host.
2 – Pets
Your pets are likely to spend much more time in the outdoors than you do, and are therefore much more likely to be bitten by a tick. This is particularly true if you happen to live in a rural area. Cats are especially prone to ticks as they love stalking through tall grass, and are usually just the right size to for a tick to hop on to. Pets will unknowingly bring the ticks back into the house, which can then cause a risk for all the occupants within. Your vet is probably the best person to talk to about preventing ticks on your cat or dog, but also make sure to check your furry friend every now and again, especially in and around the ears and neck area. Ticks can be a little easier to spot on cats than on some breeds of dogs, who may require a more thorough going-over.
3 – Children
Similarly to pets, children love to run and play in long grass, and will often spend a whole day exploring the outdoors. Often, especially if they’re young children, parents will be with them at all times; but even with adult supervision, kids are still prone to being bitten by ticks. The main priority is of course to ensure your kids don’t become infected with Lyme in the first place. Therefore, it pays doubly to check your children thoroughly after they come in from a day outside, and to shower and wash them all over.
4 – Woody Areas
Moist, humid areas are paradise for ticks; if you plan on hiking through woodland areas, make sure you’re aware of the risk of tick bites. Wood and leaf piles can also be a haven for ticks, so make sure they’re kept well away from the house, and take care when walking through them, or moving them. Any outdoor activity carries a certain degree of risk when it comes to being bitten by ticks, but being aware of this means you can thoroughly check yourself when you come home, and decrease your risk of Lyme infection to zero.
5 – Wearing Short-Length Clothing
Shorts and T-shirts provide ample opportunity for ticks to attach themselves to you. Once they’re on your body, they’ll usually spend a few hours manouvering themselves around to find the perfect spot to bite, which is most commonly a moist, dark area such as the armpits or groin. Just because your arms and legs look clean when you get back indoors, it doesn’t mean you haven’t encountered a tick! Take care to check your body thoroughly if you’ve been outside for the day; you can also lessen your exposure potential by wearing long-sleeved/legged clothing and something to cover your head. It’s also a good idea to tuck trouser legs into your socks and to wear white or bright clothing, which makes it easier to spot a tick crawling on you.
Remember that the best treatment for Lyme Disease is prevention; by knowing how you, your family and pets become exposed to ticks, you can take measures to prevent a bite, or at the very least prolonged exposure.