In the ten years I’ve been camping, I’ve found that many family campers don’t have a good understanding of what ticks are and the danger they present. Tick bites are something to worry about because they can cause Lyme disease and other types of health issues. So let’s see why you should worry about them, how to spot them and how to prevent them.
Ticks carry and transmit diseases, which if left unchecked, can be fatal to human beings. The most damaging of these is Lyme disease, a bacterial infection transmitted through the bite of an infected tick.
What Is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is an illness caused by a bacteria that results in musculoskeletal problems and cardiac and central nervous system disorders. When detected early on, treatment is available and fairly easy. However, taking a few preventative measures can prevent the issue altogether.
Lyme disease may be the worst consequence of a tick bite but this is just one of many diseases that ticks carry. Other illnesses that come from tick bites include Human Granulocytic Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Babesiosis, and Tularemia.
When traveling with animals you need to be even more careful of ticks, so you’ll also want to inspect your dog’s coat carefully.
As with other insects, ticks come in various forms, so what you may spot on one campsite may be different from another.
There are several preventative measures you can take to avoid ticks. While there are sprays and other tick preventative products, there are also some basic things you can do to prevent getting a tick on your skin.
Wear long pants when hiking through the grass. You also want to wear shirts with long, closed sleeves.
When hiking off of the trail paths tuck pant hems into socks and pull your hiking boot over the tuck. Make sure you also tuck your shirt into your pants and belt or tighten your pants at the waist.
Most ticks attach from the ground so you’ll want to periodically inspect your clothing. They slowly progress their way up to the next level of clothing so you can easily see them if your clothing items are tightly secured to your body.
You can also use certain body sprays to repel ticks on people and on pets. When you know you’re going into a tick-infested wooded area, you’ll want to carry a spray like Coulston tick repellant spray with you, otherwise, just a good insect repellent spray will work.
Once you arrive back to your campground in the evening, ask other family members to help you inspect for ticks. Look for ticks on clothing under collars and cuffs. Remove your day’s clothing and look for ticks around the scalp, at the nape of the neck, behind ears, on the legs, under armpits and on any exposed skin areas.
How to Remove a Tick?
It takes about 36 hours for a tick to transmit Lyme disease, so you have some time to remove the ticks. If you do find one, you need to remove it immediately to prevent infection. The best way to remove ticks is to use a pair of tweezers, grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull it away slowly. You can also use tick removal products like a Trix tick lasso.
Once you remove it, squish it to destroy it and place it in a waste receptacle or toilet. Don’t toss it back into the grass. If it survives, it could create an infestation in that area, and cause health risks to future campers.
If you do think the tick bit you or a family member, treat the area with a topical antibiotic. Watch for rashes or flu like symptoms. If these do turn up, call a physician as soon as possible.
What to Avoid
Don’t use old folk tale methods of using Vaseline, cigarettes or matches. When you use these old methods, you scare the tick and increase the chances of it injecting bacteria into the skin.