How to prevent lyme disease
Follow these tips to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease.
Lyme disease can produce a wide range of symptoms, from a rash and fever to fatigue, joint pain and even paralysis. Approximately 300,000 people get Lyme disease each year, with the greatest risk occurring in the New England, mid-Atlantic and upper Midwest areas of the country.
The infectious disease is transmitted through the bite of an infected deer tick, so the best way to prevent Lyme disease is to avoid getting bitten by a tick. Here are 7 tips to help reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease:
- Watch where you walk – Avoid walking through wooded areas with bushes, leaves or tall grass. If you are in an area with lots of vegetation, stick to the center of trails.
- Cover up – When you will be in areas prone to ticks, wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, socks and closed shoes. Tuck pants into socks. Wear a hat.
- Use insect repellant – Apply a product with at least 20% DEET to your skin (do not apply to hands or near eyes or mouth). Don’t let children apply insect repellant on their own. Products containing permethrin can be used on clothing, shoes and gear to provide additional protection.
- Shower once indoors – Ticks may stay on the body for hours before attaching to your skin. Take a shower to help remove ticks that have not yet attached.
- Check for ticks carefully – Deer ticks are very small (about the size of a pin head) and may be hard to find, so do a full-body check after being outdoors. Also check clothing and pets for ticks.
- Remove ticks ASAP – Your chance of getting Lyme disease is low if you remove a tick within 24 hours. So if you see a tick, remove it right away. Use a fine-tipped tweezer to gently grab the tick as close to the skin as possible. Pull straight out using steady pressure and don’t twist. Clean the area surrounding the tick bite with soap and water, antiseptic or alcohol.
- Watch for symptoms – Even if you don’t remember getting bitten by a tick, go to a doctor if you have a rash or fever, the most common signs of Lyme disease. If you do have Lyme disease, the sooner treatment begins, the better.