Summer is in full swing! The sun is shining, your skin is glowing and your winter jacket is safely stowed away for the next few months. But with all of its warm weather glory, summer also brings about certain hazards, and today, we’re talking ticks.
Lyme Disease is transmitted by infected ticks that attach to a human host. Lyme Disease season runs through the warm months of April to September, and infected ticks are most often found in tall grass, wooded areas, and places with lots of brush and leaf debris. If you find yourself in these types of locations, be sure to invest in insect repellent that contains 20% or more DEET, the most active ingredient in deterring pesky ticks and their friends. Though Lyme disease is most prevalent in the Midwest and Northeast, proper care is a must for everyone—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even titled it “the most commonly reported vectorborne illness in the United States.”
The symptoms of Lyme disease are divided between the early and later stages. Early signs include: muscles and joint aches, fever, chills, fatigue, headache, swollen lymph nodes, and an expanding rash beginning at the site of the tick bite. Often, the rash has a “bulls-eye” shape as it grows. As Lyme disease progresses, more serious symptoms emerge. These include: nerve pain, numbness, tingling or pain in the hands or feet, issues with short-term memory, additional rash, dizziness or shortness of breath, arthritis, severe joint pain and swelling, facial palsy, and inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. If you experience any of these later symptoms, seek medical care immediately.
The most important step in preventing Lyme disease is to remove the tick as soon as possible. It is a good idea to see a medical professional within a day or two, as a doctor will ensure your tick bite is properly removed, and possibly prescribe a preventative antibiotic.
After outdoor activities, simple precautions go a long way toward preventing the attachment of ticks and spread of Lyme disease. Shower ASAP – this will help either wash off any ticks that hitched a ride, or make it easier to detect the stronger-willed stowaways. Another must, according to the CDC, is conducting a full-body tick check. Hotspots for ticks include: in hair, in and around the ears, around the waist, under the arms, inside the belly button, between the legs, and behind the knees. The CDC also recommends exposing the clothing you wore to high heat in order to kill any lingering ticks. Achieve this by throwing your clothes in the dryer for 10 minutes. If washing is required, use hot water.
Tick bites can lead to serious threats to one’s health, so enjoy your summer activities while being safe and smart. The next time you discover a tick, there’s no need to avoid taking medical action. With locateyourcare, getting the help you need has never been easier.
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The content of this article was informed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.