Tick season is upon us, and it's expected to be a bad one, thanks to the warmer than usual winter experienced by much of the country. Health officials say there will be as many or more ticks this spring and summer than ever before. Therefore, it's important to take precautions against contracting Lyme Disease.
In recent years, about 300,000 Americans contracted Lyme Disease. If the disease is caught early enough, antibiotics can usually clear it up within a month. However, untreated Lyme Disease can lead to debilitating, even deadly consequences.
The best way to prevent getting Lyme Disease is to avoid being bitten by a tick. Not all ticks carry Lyme Disease, but it's difficult to observe which ticks are carriers, so a good rule of thumb is to stay away from all of them.
The best way to do that is to avoid areas where ticks live, wear insect repellent and cover up.
Ticks live in wooded, bushy or grassy areas. They can't fly or jump. But they do crawl and fall. They typically wait on the tips of tall grass or shrubs, attach themselves to people and animals that brush by, then bite them. Ticks also sometimes fall out of trees, which can be especially problematic if they land on the head, because often people don't notice the tick or the telltale bullseye because it is hidden by hair.
Therefore, wear a hat when you are going to be an area with tall trees. Wear long pants and long sleeves. When walking in wooded areas, tuck your pants into your socks. Wear light colors to easily see ticks.
Apply insect repellent with 20 percent or higher concentration of DEET.
Shower within two hours of outdoor activity. This makes an ideal time to check for ticks on your body and in your hair. Ask for help, and remember, ticks like to crawl into "crevices," you know, "folds" of the skin. Need I say more? Remember, ticks are tiny! A tick is no bigger than an ant.
Throw your clothes in the dryer for one hour on high heat when you get home. This will kill ticks that cling to your clothes.
If you see a tick, take a deep breath and pray for courage, because speaking from experience, it usually has its ugly head buried in your skin and you've got to pull it out. So get yourself a pair of pointy tweezers and grab that creature as close to the head and the skin as possible and slowly pull it straight up.
Don't pluck it like an eyelash, or you'll pull its body off the head and leave its head inside your own body. Also try not to grab the tick's body, because it could cause the pathogen to empty into your body.
Once you've gotten the tick out, keep an eye on the area. If you see a bullseye rash forming where the tick was, go to the doctor right away. Other symptoms of Lyme Disease include fever, chills, body aches, fatigue and headaches.
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