Now that the smoke from the Canada wildfires is on the wane, avid hikers and trail walkers can plan on resuming their days in the great outdoors. When doing so, it’s a time when ticks are looking to attach themselves to us to feast on our blood. They’re even more abundant and prevalent now since we had a mild winter with negligible snow.
If you have the misfortune of being attacked by one or more ticks, Dr. Thomas Mather, Tick Expert at the University of Rhode Island’s Tick Encounter Resource Center, explains the following mistakes people make when dealing with ticks.
Mistake #1Burning the Tick: One mistake people make is to burn the tick with a hot object to make it back out or let go of the skin. This is bad because it can cause the tick to spit more germs into your skin. Instead, use a nice pointy tweezer to remove the tick from as close to your skin as possible, and pull it straight out.
Mistake #2: Using products like essential oils, dish soap or Vaseline to try and get the tick to back out may work for certain ticks, but not for all ticks. It’s better to remove the tick right away and as quickly as possible and without squeezing its back end. Remember, the tick is attached to your skin with a straw and squeezing it can push more germs into your skin. Getting the tick off your body quickly instead of waiting for the tick to back out on its own, will limit the chances of the tick spitting its germs into you.
Mistake #3: After pulling a tick off your body, it’s tempting to want to throw it away as quickly as possible, but without knowing what type of tick it was, how long it’s been feeding and what possible germs it could carry. This would be a mistake. So always make sure to save the tick after pulling it off. You can put the tick in a Ziploc bag or other container until you have a chance to take a picture of it and send it to a tick expert. It’s essential to identify the tick to know what kind of tick it was and how long it was attached to you. This information will help determine your risk of disease.
You can send a photo of the tick to “TickSpotters” and they will provide helpful information about the tick you’ve found, and if there are any possible risks, plus the best next steps for staying protected.
Mistake #4: Another big mistake is not wearing tick-repellent clothing. Under current conditions, ticks will likely get on you if you go into their habitat. So to prevent them from attaching to you, spray Permethrin on your clothes especially socks and shoes or boots, pant legs even a hat and collar of your shirt or jacket.
For more tick information, go to Equip-4-Ticks Resource Center which is a collaboration with Dr. Mather and Insect Shield Repellent Technology along with a comprehensive video library for tick identification and how to stay protected from ticks and the dangerous diseases they may carry.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.