Hiking is a great way to get outdoors and enjoy nature, but it’s important to be aware of the dangers that come with the territory. From ticks to snakes, there are a lot of things to be afraid of when hiking. Ticks can be especially troublesome as humans can contract lyme disease from them if the tick is infected.
To make your hike as safe as possible, follow these tips to avoid tick bites:
1. Know the signs of a tick bite
There are a few things you can do to help avoid ticks while hiking. First, check yourself for ticks after every hike. Look for the telltale red dot on your skin that indicates a tick bite. It may present itself as an itchy, red rash or a red lump. If you find a tick, do not try to squish it with your fingers. You must remove it with fine-tipped tweezers by gripping onto the tick as close to the surface of the skin as possible and steadily pull it away from the skin. Do not twist. Once the tick has been removed, you then need to clean the bite area. If you’ve been walking your dog whilst hiking, do make sure to check them too.
Wet and warm weather is the perfect time for ticks to be active, so humans and animals are often exposed to them during the months between March and October.
2. Use tick repellent
Tick repellent is a topical cream, lotion, or spray that repels ticks. It is important to use it correctly, as over-application can cause irritation. Use an insect repellent that contains DEET or Picaridin when hiking in areas where ticks are common.
3. Wear long pants and sleeves
As ticks like to latch onto your skin, it’s best to wear long garments to avoid exposing any skin for them to bite. It’s advisable to wear long pants and socks when hiking in areas where ticks are common. Similarly, wear a long sleeved top or jacket to prevent exposing the arms. It’s also a good idea to tuck your trousers into your socks, and shirt into your pants to avoid exposure and to limit any ticks from crawling underneath.
4. Wear a hat
Similar advice to wearing long sleeved garments, it’s recommended that whenever you go hiking through a wooded area to wear a hat or head covering, whether that be a baseball cap or wide-brimmed hat in the summer or even a woolly hat in the winter. By keeping your head covered, you can avoid any pesky ticks from landing on your head and attaching to your scalp.
5. Use a mosquito net
If you decide to bunk down or camp in the woods, then it’s wise to take a mosquito net with you to prevent any ticks or other pesky bugs from attacking you whilst you sleep. Nets are available to sit under or put over the top of your sleeping bag, or you can even buy mosquito tents which you can climb in and out of.
6. Avoid hiking in long grass
It’s easier said than done, but try to stick to the paths and avoid walking through long grass. Ticks don’t jump but they can climb onto humans as well as animals if you brush past them, so wading through long grass and other plants, especially through woodland, can be a great opportunity for a tick to latch itself onto you.
What should I do if I find a tick?
Tick removal is the key to preventing the spread of Lyme disease. If you find a tick, remove it as soon as possible using a tick removal tool, such as a pair of tweezers. They cannot be simply pulled out without the use of these as you may only partially remove the tick due to the way they attach themselves. The only way to ensure a tick is fully removed from your body is by using proper equipment. This also applies if you find ticks on your dog.