Most ticks do not carry diseases, and most tick bites do not cause serious health problems. But it is important to avoid and check for ticks, and to remove a tick as soon as you find it. Removing the tick completely may help you avoid diseases such as Lyme disease that the tick may pass on during feeding, or a skin infection where the tick bit you.
How to avoid tick bites
- Learn where ticks and deer that carry ticks are most commonly found in your community. Avoid those areas if possible.
- Cover as much of your body as possible when working or playing in grassy or wooded areas. Wear a hat, a long-sleeved shirt, and long pants with the legs tucked into your socks. Keep in mind that it is easier to spot ticks on light-colored clothes.
- Use insect repellents, such as products with DEET.
- Clear leaves, brush, tall grasses, woodpiles, and stone fences from around your house and the edges of your yard or garden. This may help reduce ticks and the rodents that the ticks depend on.
- Remove plants that attract deer, and use barriers to keep deer—and the deer ticks they may carry—out of your yard.
- Call your local landscaping nursery or county extension office to see if your yard can be treated for ticks with nonchemical or environmentally safe methods.
Checking for ticks
- When you come in from outdoors, check all over your body for ticks, including your groin, head, and underarms. Comb your hair with a fine-toothed comb, or have someone check your scalp.
- To remove ticks from clothing, put your clothes in a hot dryer or hang them out in the sun on a hot day for at least 15 minutes. The heat can kill the ticks. Also check for ticks on any gear you had with you in the woods.
- Check your children daily for ticks, especially during the summer months.
- Check your pets for ticks after they’ve been outdoors. Your pets can carry infected ticks indoors where they might fall off your pet and attach to you.