Tick bites and Lyme Disease

Tips for Ticks

Ticks are generally found near the ground, in brushy or wooded areas. They can’t jump or fly. Instead, they climb tall grasses or shrubs and wait for a potential host to brush against them. When this happens, they climb onto the host and seek a site for attachment.

Prevention

  1. Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents with products containing 0.5% permethrin. Additional repellent options are available. EPA’s repellent search toolExternal can help find the product that best suits your needs

  2. Treat dogs and cats for ticks as recommended by a veterinarian.

  3. Check for ticks daily, especially under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and on the hairline and scalp.

  4. Shower soon after being outdoors.

  5. Learn more about landscaping techniques that can help reduce blacklegged tick populations in the yard.

(See more prevention tips below. )

Tick Removal

  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. The key is to remove the tick as soon as possible. Avoid folklore remedies such as using nail polish, petroleum jelly, or heat to make the tick detach from the skin.

  2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with clean tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth parts easily, leave them alone and let the skin heal.

  3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Preventing tick bites (CDC)

Tick exposure can occur year-round, but ticks are most active during warmer months (April-September). Know which ticks are most common in your area.

Before You Go Outdoors

  • Know where to expect ticks. Ticks live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas, or even on animals. Spending time outside walking your dog, camping, gardening, or hunting could bring you in close contact with ticks. Many people get ticks in their own yard or neighborhood.

  • Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin. Permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing and camping gear and remain protective through several washings. Alternatively, you can buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear.

  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents

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  • containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone. EPA’s helpful search tool

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  • can help you find the product that best suits your needs. Always follow product instructions. Do not use products containing OLE or PMD on children under 3 years old.

  • Avoid Contact with Ticks

    • Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.

    • Walk in the center of trails.

After You Come Indoors

Check your clothing for ticks. Ticks may be carried into the house on clothing. Any ticks that are found should be removed. Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed. If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended. Cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks.

Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and daypacks.

Shower soon after being outdoors. Showering within two hours of coming indoors has been shown to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease and may be effective in reducing the risk of other tickborne diseases. Showering may help wash off unattached ticks and it is a good opportunity to do a tick check.

Check your body for ticks after being outdoors. Conduct a full body check upon return from potentially tick-infested areas, including your own backyard. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body. Check these parts of your body and your child’s body for ticks:

  • Under the arms

  • In and around the ears

  • Inside belly button

  • Back of the knees

  • In and around the hair

  • Between the legs

  • Around the waist

Page last reviewed: July 1, 2020

Content source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID), Division of Vector-Borne Diseases (DVBD