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Prevent Tick-Borne Diseases While Enjoying the Outdoors

Originally Published in MotorHome Magazine

You’ve grabbed your water bottle, sunscreen and hat for a hike in the woods or other outdoor activity; add a bit of tick protection to your must-have items when you head out the door for an adventure, exercise or play.

Continue enjoying the outdoors by enlisting a variety of strategies to limit your risk of exposure to ticks and the disease pathogens they transmit. Here are just a few of the ways to increase your safety and enjoyment.

Wear light-colored clothing to more easily spot the tick before it moves onto your skin.  Wear long pants and tuck them into your socks and tuck your shirt into your pants. Ticks often gain access through pant legs or shirttails and crawl up looking for a place to settle in and feed.

Consider spraying your clothing with an insecticide labeled for repelling and killing ticks. Spray your clothing and let it dry before wearing. Or invest in pretreated clothing for hiking or other outdoor activities. Read and follow label directions carefully.

Always conduct a tick check on yourself, children and pets after spending time outdoors.  Studies show that regular tick checks are the most effective way to prevent diseases transmitted by ticks. Ticks can feed anywhere but are often found in and around the ears and hair, inside the bellybutton, under the arms, around the waist, back of the knees and between the legs.

Check your clothing inside and out.  Ticks can survive for several days inside even when washed in warm or hot water. An hour in the dryer on high heat will kill them.

Shower within two hours after spending time outdoors. The water can help dislodge any unattached ticks plus this provides a second opportunity to conduct a tick check. Studies found this practice greatly reduces the risk of tick-borne diseases.

Make these practices part of your routine so you and your family can continue to safely enjoy camping, hiking and all your other favorite outdoor activities.

For more information on preventing tick bites and repellants, visit the CDC’s website.


Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books, including Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything” DVD series and the nationally-syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio program. Myers’s website is www.melindamyers.com.

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