With an abundance of stunning parks and hiking trails in Plymouth, Middleborough and all of the South Shore area, it does not escape us that you spend time outdoors away from your tick treated yard. It is important when you are spending time in untreated outdoor places that you check yourself for ticks when you come in. With the tick population being at noticeably high levels and the prevalence of Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses in our area, checking for ticks can be the difference between becoming infected or not. Deer ticks have to be latched on to their host for 24-48 hours to infect people, making regular tick checks crucial to lowering your risks. Most experts advise checking yourself for ticks every day in the spring through fall months.
I always recommend using a lint roller before you go indoors to remove ticks from the outside of your clothing as best you can. This limits the number of ticks that get in your house potentially biting you, a family member or a pet.
Start Between Your Toes
Ticks do not jump, they grab ahold when you walk by. This means that if you are checking yourself within a short time of going inside, they can usually be found on the lower half of your body. Starting your tick self-check from the floor up is a great way to start. When given time, ticks will climb up, looking for places that are dark and moist to hide (think behind the knees, near the groin and in armpits). It is best to have a system for checking so you don’t miss a spot. It is also best to go to a private area with a mirror such as a bathroom.
The Tick Self-Check
Start by peeling back the top of each sock checking your ankles, lower legs & behind your knees. As you pull your sock off, check between your toes. Undress and slowly move your way up, examining and feeling every inch of your legs. Those with leg hair need to lift leg hair and look close at the hair follicle area. As you move up, pay close attention to the inner thighs and groin area. Use a hand held mirror and look under areas where ticks could hide. Check your mid-section carefully, even inside your belly button. Checking under your breasts and inside your armpits is vital as they provide great hiding spots. If your armpits have hair, be sure to look through it carefully. Ticks can often be found behind the ears, back of the neck and in the hair. If you need help checking your head, get a partner or use your hands to feel and a hand-held mirror to look.
Dry Your Clothing on High for 10 Minutes
Clothing worn in wooded areas needs to be taken off immediately and placed in the clothes dryer on high for 10 or more minutes. Washing ticks does not kill them. Once you’ve dried the clothes you can throw them in with the rest of the laundry or wash them as normal. Never throw your hiking clothes directly in the laundry pile when you come in. Ticks could climb on you, your kids or your pets later.
If you’re interested in living a worry-free outdoor lifestyle, consider our tick control services for your home and follow our blog for the best and latest on ticks, tick control and tick-borne diseases in South Shore Massachusetts.
If you check every day you can spot bites or engorged ticks if you missed them the first time. Stay tuned next week to find out what to do if you find a tick.