It is with the arrival of warm days that hungry ticks start hunting for people. On dry and hot days, they slightly weaken their activity, but when the weather is wet and gloomy outside, they “go on the attack”.
When and where to beware of a tick bite
Ticks live in damp and humid places, particularly in or near wooded or grassy areas, because ticks need high humidity to survive. Often ticks live on slopes warmed by the sun, overgrown with grass and bushes. It is important to know that ticks are concentrated near paths and forest roads. Ticks are rare in dry pine forests where there is no grass.
Human activity does not reduce the number of ticks if there are thickets of grass, piles of branches and leaves, so ticks live in cities as well. Recently, the number of urban residents affected by tick bites has increased. Since ticks need tall grass, they are usually not found on mowed lawns.
Tick activity begins in warm, sunny days in May-June. In the future, the activity of ticks decreases, and the second smaller peak of activity occurs at the end of August – the beginning of September. (The second peak is characteristic of dog ticks.)
You can come into contact with ticks while being active in the woods or walking through vegetation such as litter or shrub leaves. Always walk in the center of a trail or road to avoid ticks.
How to protect yourself
Wear light-colored clothes (ticks are better visible on them) with long sleeves and a hood, tuck your pants into socks. If there is no hood, put on a headdress. Use repellents. Inspect your clothes more often and periodically conduct a thorough inspection, paying special attention to the following parts of the body: neck, armpits, inguinal region, earlobes – the skin in these places is particularly delicate and thin, and the tick is most often attached there.
Use repellents with DETA (diethyltoluamide) on skin (except face) or clothing, or permethrin (on clothing). Products containing permethrin can be used to disinfect boots, clothing and camping items.
They will remain protected even after you wash them several times. Repellents containing 20% or more DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) can be applied to the skin and can provide protection for up to several hours. Always follow the instructions on the product! Parents should use this product on their children, avoiding contact with hands, eyes and mouth.
Body check after the walk
Check your body, and especially the body of children, for ticks after you have been outside, even in your own yard. Use a hand or full-length mirror to examine all parts of your body. Check these parts of your body and your baby’s body especially carefully:
- Under the armpits.
- In the ears and near the ears, on the neck.
- Inside the navel.
- On the bends of the knees and elbows.
- In and around the hair.
- Between the legs.
- Around the waist.
Shower soon after being outdoors. Showering within the next two hours reduces the risk of a tick bite. Remember that the tick is attached to the body for about two hours.
Check children for ticks, especially in their hair, when they return from potentially tick-infested areas.
Check clothes for ticks. Ticks can enter the house on clothes. If ticks are found, place the garment in the dryer on high heat for at least an hour – this effectively kills the ticks.
What to do if bitten by a tick
First of all, consult a doctor. If you do not have the opportunity to seek help from a medical institution, then you will have to remove the tick yourself.
It is convenient to remove ticks with bent tweezers or surgical clamp, in principle, any other tweezers will do. At the same time, the tick should be captured as close as possible to the proboscis, then it should be gently pulled up, while rotating around its axis in a convenient direction. Usually, after 1-3 revolutions, the tick is completely pulled out together with the proboscis. If you try to pull out the parasite, there is a high probability of its rupture.
Removal of the tick must be carried out with care, without squeezing its body, as it is possible to squeeze out the contents of the tick together with pathogens in the morning. It is important not to tear the tick when removing it – the part left in the skin can cause inflammation and suppuration. At the same time, it should be taken into account that when the tick head is removed, the infection process may continue, since there is a significant concentration of the tick-borne encephalitis virus in the salivary glands and ducts.
If when pulling out the tick, its head, which looks like a black dot, has come off, the suction site is wiped with cotton wool or a bandage moistened with alcohol, and then the head is removed with a sterile needle (pre-sterilized on fire) in the same way as you remove an ordinary rolling pin.