Tick Bites: Avoid, Repel, Remove!
While it is a good idea to take preventive measures against ticks year-round, be extra cautious in warmer months (April-September) when ticks are most active. It also helps to know which ticks are most common in your area.
Avoid Direct Contact with Ticks
- Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
- Walk in the center of trails.
Repel Ticks on Skin and Clothing
- Use repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin for protection that lasts several hours.
- Always follow product instructions. Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding hands, eyes, and mouth.
- Use products that contain permethrin on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks, and tents with products containing 0.5% permethrin. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and may be protective longer.
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has an online tool to help you select the repellent that is best for you and your family.
Find and Remove Ticks from Your Body
- Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are currently crawling on you.
- Upon return from tick-infested areas, conduct a full-body tick check, and use a hand-held or full-length mirror so that you can view all parts of your body. Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.
- Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and backpacks.
- Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors.
- If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed.
- If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended; cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks effectively. If the clothes cannot be washed in hot water, tumble dry on low heat for 90 minutes or high heat for 60 minutes. The clothes should be warm and completely dry.
If you find a tick…
If you do find a tick, remove it (here are some CDC instructions for doing so). Don’t wait for it to detach naturally—get rid of it as soon as possible!