Whether you are hiking or camping, one of the most dangerous creates you will encounter outdoors is a tick. The Blacklegged, or Deer, tick carries Lyme disease, sometimes in staggering numbers. In this guide, we will discuss why you should repel ticks and how to avoid them to safely enjoy the great outdoors. We'll cover everything from the type of repellent to use, avoiding areas with ticks, checking yourself often, and how to dress appropriately for hikes and camping trips.
Why You Should Repel Ticks
Ticks are well-known among outdoor enthusiasts, and their range is expanding. They are found all over the world, but in North America, ticks are found in almost every state. They can be hard to detect -- as small as a grain of sand or sesame seed and will attach themselves to your skin to feed. Some ticks can transmit diseases, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and ehrlichiosis. The best way to avoid getting a tick-borne disease is to prevent ticks from attaching themselves in the first place. By repelling ticks, you can greatly reduce your risk of exposure and enjoy your summer trip at ease.
There are many ways to repel ticks, but the most common and effective way is to use a tick repellent. DEET is the most common active ingredient in tick repellents, and it has been shown to be effective at preventing tick bites. Repellents that contain DEET are available in a variety of concentrations, ranging from 15% to 100%. The higher the concentration of DEET, the longer it will protect you from ticks. However, you should be careful not to apply repellents that contain DEET on your clothing, as it can damage certain materials.
If you prefer a natural repellent, there are many options available that contain essential oils, such as lemon eucalyptus oil. These repellents are not as effective as DEET-based repellents, but they are a good option for people who do not want to use a chemical-based repellent. When applying a repellent, be sure to follow the instructions on the bottle. Repellents should not be applied to skin that is broken or irritated, and you should avoid applying repellents to your face. And after you're finished using the repellent, be sure to wash it off with soap and water.
The repellent that we recommend is Permethrin, which can be applied to certain clothing and gear. It stays effective for up to six weeks or six washings. It works as effectively as 100 percent DEET, is safe to use on children, and is completely odorless once it dries.
Avoiding Areas with Ticks
One of the best ways to avoid exposure to ticks is by avoiding areas where they are typically found. Ticks love areas with cover, so they can be concealed. You should avoid areas with long brushes and leaf litter. Long brush areas are those that are off the beaten path--paths that have long grass, shrubs, bushes, and other vegetation. You're far more likely to encounter ticks in these areas. Whether you're hiking or camping, consider staying on the trail and avoid going into these areas. There very well may be ticks on the trail, too. That's where the other methods of repelling ticks come in. Just remember that the second you step into long brush areas, you're likely to find ticks everywhere.
Leaf litter is another area where ticks are commonly found. Leaf litter includes the fallen leaves and branches that have accumulated on the ground. Be extra careful if the leaves and branches are dead as they'll attract even more ticks. If you're camping in a leafy area, consider putting up some sort of barrier to keep them away.
Another place to avoid is near water. Ticks love to live near water, so if you're planning on going for a hike or camping trip in an area that has water nearby--a river, stream, or lake--be extra vigilant about checking for ticks. They're likely to be on the vegetation and in the water, too. It's frustrating because it's nice hanging around bodies of water. The sights can be beautiful and relaxing! You'll need to make the choice of avoiding ticks near water or repelling them as best as you can.
Checking Yourself Often
Even if you take all of the above measures to prevent ticks, it's still possible for them to find a way onto your body. You should check yourself for ticks often, especially if you've been in an area with a lot of vegetation or water. You can do this by doing physical checks or using a mirror to check your back, neck, and scalp. If you do find a tick on yourself, remove it as soon as possible. Don't wait to remove them because the longer they're attached, the more likely it is that they will continue biting you, potentially transmitting a disease.
If you're outdoors with friends and family, consider taking regular stops to check each other for ticks. Don't forget about any pets you have with you, either! Pets are just as susceptible to ticks as people are. It's important to note that bringing along a pet makes you far more likely to find ticks on yourself. So, check yourself and your furry friends often.
Another practical way to repel ticks is by dressing appropriately. This is in addition to using repellents. Wearing long pants and sleeves will help to protect your skin from ticks. Tucking in your shirt will help, too. You can also wear light colors, which makes it easy to spot them. If you're going to be in an area with a lot of vegetation or leaves that could have ticks, consider putting on your hiking boots or high-top shoes. Simply put, the more of your skin you can cover, the better.
Then, once you've set up your camping spot or found a safe area to rest, you can remove your boots and outer clothing to get more comfortable. When you get the chance, set up a campfire as they're highly effective in repelling ticks while hiking and camping.