Ticks - What You Need to Know

Publication Date: 06-30-2017

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Preventing Tick Bites

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 repellent 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. Protection lasts through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and may offer protection for a longer period of time.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has an online tool to help you select the repellent that is best for you and your family.

How To Do a Tick Check

Perform daily tick checks after returning from tick-infested areas.

Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.

Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to 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 day packs.

Tumble dry clothes on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing. If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed.

If clothes require washing first, use hot water. Cold/warm water will not kill ticks effectively. 
If hot water isn’t available, tumble dry on low heat for 90 minutes or high heat for 60 minutes.
Clothes should be warm and completely dry.

Tick Removal

If you find a tick attached to your skin, there’s no need to panic. There are several tick-removal devices on the market, but a plain set of fine-tipped tweezers will remove a tick quite effectively.

How to remove a tick

1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth parts with clean tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with tweezers, leave it in the skin and let the skin heal. 3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water. 4. Dispose of a live tick by putting it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.

Avoid folklore remedies such as “painting” the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible–not waiting for it to detach.

Follow Up

If you develop a rash or fever within several weeks of removing a tick, see your doctor. Be sure to tell the doctor about your recent tick bite, when the bite occurred, and where you most likely acquired the tick.

For more information on ticks visit www.cdc.gov/ticks or http://www.ticksinmaine.com/