By: Gary Fancher, PD
Tick bites are possible all year here in the Ozarks, but are more prevalent in the warmer spring and summer months because of increased vegetation and outdoor activities by larger numbers of people.
There are a number of things we can do to reduce the chances of getting a tick bite and there are ways to reduce the chance of tick-borne illnesses:
- Ticks can be found in the woods or grassy areas next to wooded areas,in leaf litter and near shrubs. Anywhere there is grass or shrubs and it is moist and humid, you will likely find ticks. For example, if you are on a trail, try to stay near the center of the trail to minimize risks.
- Permethrin kills ticks and is used to pre-treat clothing, boots and camping gear. It will remain protective through several washings. Do not apply directly to skin.
- Use repellents with DEET on skin. A 20% concentration can protect up to several hours. Parents should apply to children, avoiding hands, eyes and mouth.
- When you come inside, after possible exposure, check clothing for ticks. Place clothes in the dryer on high heat for one hour to kill ticks. Shower after being outdoors. If you shower within two hours after exposure, it can reduce the risk of getting Lyme disease from an infected tick. It may wash off ticks and is a good time to check for ticks. You should check – between the legs – under arms- in and around ears – inside belly button – back of knees – in and around the hair – around waist – and everywhere else.
- In your yard, you can help by removing leaf litter and clearing tall grass and brush around the home. Build a barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawn and play areas and wooded areas. Reduce vegetation next to play areas.
- Talk to a pest control expert about treating your lawn and play areas.
- Try to keep deer away from your yard and play areas.
- Prevent ticks on your animals with tick collars, sprays, shampoos and/or use products like Front Line. Your veterinarian is a wonderful source for the best products to use on your animals.
- Removing ticks from your skin can be difficult. I find the best way is with a good pair of tweezers and lift the tick up on its head to better grasp the tick, then pull from the skin without jerking it. When the tick is out dispose of tick, not by smashing with fingers, but by flushing it down the toilet. Clean the skin with alcohol and I use soap and water. I usually use bacitracin or Neosporin on the skin after removing the tick. Keep the skin clean to help the healing process.
- Ask your Collier’s staff for help selecting tick repellent products for your family.
- Check with your favorite Outdoor camping outfitter for pre-treated clothing and camping supplies.
In Arkansas there are several kinds of ticks. You can find the American Dog tick, Black-legged Tick, Brown dog tick, Gulf Coast tick and the Lone Star tick according to the CDC.
The CDC Website is a very good resource for additional information and links to other pertinent sites to help you learn more about ticks in Arkansas.