Welcome back to the Arne Wellness Center blog. For many living in and around Littleton, the start of spring means you’ll be spending more time outdoors hiking, walking, biking, and playing with your pup at the park. As you re-emerge from your homes to get outdoors and enjoy the Colorado sunshine, keep in mind that other, more sinister creatures will also become more active this spring — one of them being the dreaded tick.

Among other pathogens, ticks carry and transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme disease in humans and animals (including pets). This illness is one of the fastest-growing multi-systemic diseases that, if not detected early, and not properly diagnosed and treated, can lead to chronic pain in the joints and muscles, inflammation, headaches, and issues with the nervous system. There are, however, preventative steps you can take to avoid being bitten by a Lyme-carrying tick, which reduces the risk of becoming ill with Lyme disease. Before you head outdoors this spring, read these tips for preventing tick bites.

Awareness

Be aware of your surroundings when you’re outdoors and recognize when you’re in an area that may be a tick habitat. When outdoors, if you’re surrounded by trees, bushes, shrubs, and other organic matter, keep an eye out for nymphs — young ticks the size of a pinhead—and adult ticks that are about 10 millimeters in size when engorged. Avoid trekking through heavily wooded, brushy, and grassy areas when you can. When walking along trails, stay in the center away from overhanging grass and shrubs that line trails.

Insect Repellent

Use either natural or chemical-based insect repellents that help protect against ticks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Prevention recommends using chemical-based repellents that contain 20 percent DEET. If you’re working, hiking, or camping in heavily forested areas, consider treating your clothing, shoes, and outdoor gear (DO NOT apply to your skin) with Permethrin to effectively protect against ticks. Follow this link to the Environmental Protection Agency’s helpful tool to help you find the right tick repellent for you.  

Cover Your Skin

For those people who work or play outdoors in tick-friendly environments, take preventative measures to protect your skin and clothing from ticks. Wear long-sleeved, light-colored clothing, which makes spotting ticks much easier. It’s best to wear gaiters or tuck your pants into your socks to protect your ankles and lower legs where ticks love to latch on. Wear a hat to shield your head and face, and if you have long hair, consider wearing your hair in braids.

Protect Your Yard & Pets

Keep your yard clean by mowing regularly and removing yard waste to avoid creating a tick-friendly environment. Seal off entrances where stray pets and wildlife carrying ticks may enter your yard. Install chicken wire along the base of your fence if there are holes or gaps in-between fence boards. Cover single holes with cement bricks or install hardwood boards. This will protect you, your pets, and your yard from ticks.

Perform Tick Checks

If you’ve been outdoors in tick-friendly zones, perform tick checks on yourself, your family members, and your pets. Check for ticks after leaving a wooded or grassy area before getting into your vehicle. Do another full-body tick check once you get home. When checking pets, along with checking their head and coat, inspect their ears, armpits, nether regions, and between their toes. Carefully remove ticks that you find. Follow this link to a recent blog post and learn how to safely remove a tick.

These are just a few ways you can prevent tick bites and avoid contracting Lyme disease. Join us next time as we continue looking at more tips for preventing tick bites. Until then, contact Arne Wellness Center if you would like to begin natural Lyme disease treatment in Littleton.