It’s estimated that in the U.S., 300,000 Lyme infection occur each year. Lyme disease is spread through a bite by an infected tick. Camping, hiking, working or playing in a woody or grassy place can lead to infection when bitten by an infected tick. Late or undiagnosed Lyme disease can result in late stage or chronic disease. Hence, it’s important to learn how to protect yourself from ticks. Also, you need to know how black-legged deer ticks look like since they are responsible for the spread of this disease. For starters, they are smaller than dog ticks, flat and broad oval shaped. Here is how to protect yourself from Lyme disease.
Use Insect Repellant
Consider using Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)- registered insect repellant containing DEET, or oil of lemon eucalyptus and apply to your skin. Follow the instructions given and avoid mouth or eye contact with the repellant. Parents should apply repellant to their children. Also, choose products that contain permethrin on clothing. If you’re camping, treat your clothes, socks, and tents with products containing 0.5 percent permethrin. Such product remains protective even after washing.
Do A Tick Check
After spending time outdoors, do a thorough check for ticks in your body and clothes. In fact, you need to jump in the shower when you return from an area that may have ticks. You can use a mirror too, to view all your body parts and do the same for children. Areas that need special check include:
- Under the arms
- Inside the belly button
- Between the legs
- Around the waist
- In and around the body hair
- In and around the ears
- Back of the knee
When visiting wooded or grassy areas, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, gloves and a hat to keep ticks off your skin where they can latch on and bite. Moreover, you should tuck your pants into the socks and your shirt in your pants to block ticks from crawling onto your skin. Stick to trails and avoid walking through low bushes and long grass. Even better, wear light-colored clothes to make ticks easier to spot.
Remove Attached Ticks Quickly and Correctly
Whenever you see a tick crawling through your clothes, you should remove it immediately with fine-tipped tweezers. If a tick gets attached to your skin for less than 24 hours, the chances of getting Lyme disease is extremely small. However, the tick may transmit other diseases more quickly. In that case, you should watch for signs and symptoms of Lyme disease such as fever or rash. Visit a healthcare provider if you have any symptoms.
Avoid Ticks Friendly Areas
Ticks prefer wooden and long grassy areas where they can lie and wait to bite passers-by. Set the patio, play areas and playground equipment away from shrubs, bushes and other vegetation. Schedule a regular grass and leaves cutting around your home. Another way to keep the ticks away is by the use of sprays although this will not reduce the risk of infection.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease
Most people think that whenever you have a bulls-eye shaped rash then you have Lyme disease. However, 10 percent of those who contract Lyme disease may not even have a rash. Early symptoms of Lyme disease include fatigue, headaches, chills, muscle and joint pain, fever and swollen lymph nodes. What’s worse, Lyme disease affects all parts of the body and organs. A report from people with Lyme disease showed that every one of them had at least one symptom that was severe or very severe. These are the later signs and symptoms of Lyme disease:
- Numbness or tingling in hands and feet
- Severe joint pain and swelling
- Dropping on one side of the face
- Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord
- Heart problem (irregular heartbeat, heart palpitations)
Be careful with Lyme disease because its symptom varies from one person to another and not everyone with Lyme disease experience same or all the above symptoms. Additionally, many late symptoms of this condition are common to other diseases. And people with Lyme disease may be misdiagnosed with different illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome.
Different ticks carry different infections and not all ticks cause Lyme disease. Therefore, never crush a tick with your fingers as you can get infected with other diseases. Instead, safely remove and dispose of the tick. In case of a tick bite, talk to a healthcare provider immediately. You need to check your pets too and limit their access to tick-infested areas because they can bring them into your home. Spray your dogs with veterinarian prescribed tick prevention products. Learning how to identify, handle and avoid ticks is the first step to enjoying your spring and summer months peacefully.
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